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Royal Institute of British Architects
Family Fun Day 2016: Total Wipeout!

Report by Tim Surtell

On 2nd April Chris Warrell, Brian Leach and I took part in SELMEC's second Family Fun Day at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

At last year's 'Day of Play' we had the use of three six-foot tables in the Aston Webb Room upstairs and it got a little cramped, with some families having to sit on the floor. This time Meccano got promoted, becoming the main attraction in the Florence Hall (move over Lego!) with eight large round tables each seating eight.

Families building bridges in the Florence Hall
Families building bridges in the Florence Hall

Once again, Meccano generously supplied us with several new sets, and families were soon busily building away as we gave guidance.

With the event being titled 'Total Wipeout!' to coincide with RIBA's 'Creation from Catastrophe' exhibition, we decided to run a Meccano Bridge Building Challenge in which families would compete against each other to see who could build the strongest bridge.

The footprint of each bridge had to be at least 14½ x 1½ inches, and be flat enough that it could be placed correctly on the test rig.

Checking the size of parts against the template
Checking the size of parts against the template

A testing machine was placed underneath each bridge and its feet adjusted so that there was a slight gap between bridge and machine. The bridge was then loaded up with nuts and bolts until it flexed enough to activate one of the four tactile buttons inside the machine, lighting an LED and sounding a buzzer.

The testing machine
The testing machine

The whole testing setup
The whole testing setup

After the nuts and bolts were weighed, and the weight of the bridge was taken into account, each bridge was given a score. The scores were recorded on a laptop computer so that an up-to-date leaderboard could be displayed.

Chris testing out a bridge
Chris testing out a bridge

The winner was Matthew Brook, who went home with a new Tower Bridge set (what else?) as his prize. His bridge, weighing only 210g, withstood almost 5kg before flexing.

The winner, Matthew Brook, with his bridge
The winner, Matthew Brook (left), with his bridge

» See all the Bridge Building Creative Challenge photos and the scoring leaderboard on Facebook.

A few times during the day Godzilla made an appearance, entertaining everyone by 'destroying' a bridge! In fact Brian (Godzilla) had brought along his own special bendable bridge for this express purpose.

Godzilla entertains by wrecking a bridge!
Godzilla entertains by wrecking a bridge!

 

» This article appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of SELMEC News.

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