The last of our three science workshops at Stoke-on-Trent's heritage museums was at Etruria, and involved a morning of bridge design followed by an introduction to rocketry after lunch.
Thinking about design features, and considering the development of both bridge and rocket technology, was followed by the opportunity for the children to design their own bridges in teams (with KNex) and rockets individually (using cardboard and plastic) and then testing them, which was the highlight. The bridges needed to allow a small, plastic ship to pass beneath, and a weight to rest on top and then at either end. 3 of 4 were successful designs. To test the rockets we went outside, and launched them using an air pump with great success.
We were then given a tour of the museum which was where, from its position beside the canals, the raw materials for The Potteries were ground under steam power. The steam engine and the huge gear system it drove were impressive. Since the engine only works on monthly steaming weekends, before we left the children were treated to a demonstration with a miniature steam engine, which fascinated them all.