Science Week – Ancient Technologies

Posted: 15th March 2019

Mr Iqbal has certainly pulled out all the stops this week and has managed to find a number of really interesting guests to talk science to the pupils. Today our guest was Paul Stanbridge, a teacher for many years at Hemel Hempstead School and also a local farmer. Paul though has lots of interests – blacksmithing, willow sculptures etc but he has a particular interest in Butser Iron Age Farm. Today he made our pupils think about the science and the technology that went into building a round house, particularly the roof. The pupils made a small sample of a thatched roof. Was it more waterproof vertical or at an angle? Some of the samples kept the water out either way, others were better at an angle. At Butser, after 6 months of experimentation, they discovered an angle of 42 degrees was best. You may also wonder why round houses have no chimneys – if they did the wind would come howling in and take sparks from the fire into the roof, setting it on fire. Mr Stanbridge then went on to talk about one of the most important inventions ever – cement, created by the Romans – opus caementicium. The boys created some of the ingredients by smashing tiles into powder. When they added the ingredients together with water they noticed an exothermic reaction take place. The opus caementicium must have been pretty good as so many Roman buildings still stand today. Very many thanks to Mr Stanbridge for visiting Lockers Park and bringing along his expertise.