Engineering Department > Structures Group

Teaching Material for use in Schools

Stadium Roof Design

Silcock photo This page has been constructed by Elizabeth Silcock and Chris Burgoyne. The material was produced by Elizabeth as part of her 4th year undergraduate project in 2007. The work was carried out in association with the Institution of Structural Engineers Educational Trust. 

Emirates StadiumThe Stadium Roof teaching module contains three cross-curricular activities that tie in with the GCSE syllabus for mathematics, physics and design and technology.  The teaching material has been developed in association with the IStructE Educational Trust and the University of Cambridge, following a study that looked at how to promote physics in schools. The study, performed by Bartlett and Kendall Associates, showed that there was a need for more awareness of what engineering entails before students make their A-Level choices.

There are three separate activities, which are desiged to be taken in sequence but can be done separately. They are Design Decisions, Emirates Stadium Structural Analysis and Cantilever Roof Design. Each activity is designed to require minimum preparation time from the teacher and is designed to take around an hour to complete. Student worksheets and overhead presention slides are provided for each activity along with supporting teachers' notes with background information and worked solutions. Each module is summarised below, and each includes several files that can be downloaded, some of which are quite large. All materials can be copied and used for educational purposes provided that they are not altered and the source is acknowledged. Any suggestions for improvements to these materials, or feedback on how well the materials work, should be sent to Chris Burgoyne at the University of Cambridge (

Design Decisions Activity

The Design Decisions activity introduces the overall topic of Stadium Design and focuses on key skills such as team work, communication, discussion and presenting. It particularly ties in DT Resistant Materials syllabus by incorporating design considerations, material selection and environmental issues. In addition it incorporates numerical calculations and has opportunity for ICT use, either as a homework activity or during class.

Files to download:-

Teacher's powerpoint presentation (3.9 Mbytes); Teacher's Guidance Notes; Student Worksheet

Emirates Stadium Structural Analysis

The Emirates Stadium Structural Analysis contains a cut-out model of the newly built stadium roof followed by calculations to determine what size to make the primary girder. The analysis brings in lots of elements from the GCSE Physics Forces and Motion syllabus such as representing motion, balanced and unbalanced forces and the principal of moments. It also requires calculations such as rearranging equations, areas and scaling from mathematics GCSE. In addition it provides an application of mathematics showing how algebra can be used to model and solve real-life problems whilst also engaging students in practical work with the cut-out model.
The cut out model should look like this! 

Files to download:-

Teacher's powerpoint presentation (12.5 Mbytes); Teacher's Guidance Notes (2.6 Mbytes); Cut out model; Student Worksheet

Cantilever Roof Design Exercise

Primarily based on improving students'; grasp of moments, the Cantilever Roof Design Exercise involves students balancing their own design for a cantilever roof. It includes many elements from the GCSE Physics Forces and Motion syllabus, such as calculating the weight of an object and finding the centre of gravity of an unusual shape. It also links with design elements of design and technology GCSE and mathematical skills such as re-arranging equations. This activity is the most cross-curricular of the three showing how structural engineering intertwines all three subjects to solve practical real-life problems. It has a strong practical side, allowing students to be creative, while the structured worksheets mean students can work through the activity with minimal interaction from a teacher.
Students can choose their own roof design. 

Files to download:-

Teacher's powerpoint presentation (9.8 Mbytes); Teacher's Guidance Notes; Student Worksheet


We would like to thanks Arsenal Football Club, Buro Happold and the Institution of Structural Engineers Educational Trust for their assistance in producing these materials.  We would also like to thank the staff and pupils of Cheltenham College, Cheltenham Ladies' College and St Catherine's School, Twickenham for trialling these modules and giving valuable feedback. The photographs in the text are taken from various web sites.