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Bridge Projects


Bridge projects are a summative component of the Laboratory Skills and Electronics module and are completed the Easter term after the Discovery Skills module. You will complete a week-long ‘invention’ activity and develop the necessary skills required for the change from the more scripted activities in Discovery Skills toward the more open-ended research projects in later years.

The Bridge Project was a great stepping stone from the structured lab sessions of Level 1, which are aimed very much at giving everybody a solid skill base, and the other lab sessions in Level 2, which are very much student-led and gave us much more freedom on approach and method.

Carl Nelson

You will be working in teams, typically of approximately four, on a project based on your preferences. Each project is supervised by a staff member, who will give you guidance and help. However, the projects are designed to be open-ended and allow for creativity, so you won’t be given a lab script.

It was a great experience to do group research in such an independent fashion: we decided what work we wanted to do, how we wanted to split, who would do what, how they would do each step, etc. This freedom meant that we could play to one another’s strengths and allowed all of us to make the most of the project.

Carl Nelson

You will be asked to construct an online document about your project and write individual journal posts reflecting on your progress. Assessment for this module also includes a short team presentation and group lab report. This module is all about working well as a team!

Further information is available to current students on Learn Ultra.


Fig.1: A bridge project building a motor from paperclips


Past Projects

While our projects change from year to year, here is a selection of previous topics:


  • “Actually, it is rocket science…What are the factors influencing the height of a water rocket?”

    • It’s a bit self-explanatory—build a rocket, investigate the factors that affect its height, and provide quantitative evidence for the conditions required to launch as high as possible.


  • “Sunspots – can you do better than Galileo?”

    • Sunspots are dark regions on the solar surface caused by concentrations of magnetic flux that inhibit convection, thus reducing the temperature. Sunspots rotate with the solar surface, meaning they can be used to measure the rotation speed of the Sun!


  • “Robot Wars!”

    • You will build and program robots using Python, motors and sensors, and of course Lego! What your robots do and how they do it is entirely up to you.


  • “The physics of Tibetan singing bowls”

    • Can you reproduce the results from the paper In particular, can you film the bouncing drops known as ‘walkers’ using simple equipment? Can you tell what the bowls are made of?


  • “Imaging the electromagnetic field inside a microwave”

    • Many physics problems involve asking how waves fit inside boxes. The microwave is a device based on this question! You will need to decide on a method of taking a picture of the standing wave pattern inside a microwave.


  • “Faster than “g” free-fall?”

    • Objects fall under gravity and accelerate at “g”. Can they free-fall faster? Take a heavy chain and suspend it vertically with one end touching the ground. Release the chain; what’s the acceleration at the top of the chain. The results might be surprising.


  • “The Physics of Cooling Coffee”

    • If you want to drink your cup of coffee as soon as possible, when should you add the milk and sugar? When should you stir it and for how long? Does the cooling rate depend on the cup colour?


Fig. 2: An experiment involving making rockets from bottles