Implementation of “Industrial Heritage in the 19th and 20th Centuries” (SOI-ES-325)

Author: José María Díaz Fuentes

School/Organization: Salesian School Santo Domingo Savio (Úbeda, Spain)

On the LS from Tihana Lalić (EN-CUR-487) students learn what industrial heritage is, and how it has influenced the location of specific architectural entities that appeared during the period of industrialization, in the 19th and 20th centuries.

It is a scenario typical of the subjects of History and Geography, but Tihana’s scenario has inspired us to take into account this historical point of view of civil engineering from the past.

The engineers of the past have managed to give us examples of their incredible mastery in their designs, they did very durable designs and have served as a source of inspiration for generations of subsequent builders. We must value the contribution they made in this period of our history and we must not forget that the techniques used are still valid for the most part. The LS from Tihana encourages us to do manual work (in our workshop classroom) within our Technology subject in 2nd ESO (Spain), and in the framework of the elaboration of an original Technical Class Project.

Our intention is to reproduce to scale models of some constructions carried out in that period of our history, which on the other hand are also magnificent examples of current civil constructions. Within the task to be carried out, we will take into account the search for information based on examples found in Europeana Collections. When well chosen, many of its images give us valuable clues about the construction methods of the analyzed pieces. Our students are amazed at the size of the buildings they see on the platform and relate their design to the learned concepts throughout the course they are living. It’s a great way to retain ideas in memory because they understand the real utility they have. 

On the other hand, we need to put into practice the manual dexterity of our students using appropriate materials and tools, a good sense of geometry and also giving way to creativity.

Industrial heritage in our Technology class

The Technology subject in ESO – Spain – is designed to carry out project work with students aged 13 and 14. We have dedicated some lessons to study materials and work techniques. Once we completed the ‘Structures and stability’ lesson, we are ready to carry out our first project focused on the construction of some previously planned object.

Our students are fascinated by the design of iron bridges of many kinds, and also by the fabulous Eiffel Tower (a world-renowned engineering icon of the aforementioned period)

Students search for information through the Europeana image collections to find examples that best suit their real possibilities when carrying out the task. They carefully observe the structures from different perspectives, its main blocks, the elements that give strength and stability, construction and artistic details as well.

Students make their first sketches and point out the main elements to take into account. They should also find out the actual size of the chosen model, and think about the size they will choose to make their own construction using scale factors. Finally, it is time to think about the techniques to use, complexity level they will commit to, materials and tools to use, and the task distribution within a work group.

The challenge

The Technology subject should be fundamentally practical and students want to put their manipulative skills into practice. For this, we offer them the possibility of doing something out of the ordinary since the examples proposed by our textbooks are not very challenging and attractive. In the first stage we made a theoretical introduction to Europeana and presented a problem to be solved, we brainstormed about the knowledge acquired in the lessons and we divided the classes into groups.

Suspension bridge and iron bridge in ZaragozaInstitute of Cultural Heritage of Spain, linkAutor: António (1901-1983) CC BY-NC-ND

Eiffel tower from the Trocadero tower. Digital Memory of Catalonia, link Autor: António (1901-1983) CC BY-NC-ND Autor: Vidal, Lluís Marià, 1842-1922


Typical truss structures on many bridges are easy to understand and reproduce to scale using simple materials and assembly techniques. Students are free to choose their own model according to other classmates. In this way, we begin the stage of searching for new information on examples of civil buildings from the last century on the Europeana portal.

Some students decide on iron bridges of different configurations, but most of them dare to build a scaled Eiffel Tower.

Modified drawings inspired by various sources – CC BY José María Díaz Fuentes

Suspension bridge and iron bridge in ZaragozaInstitute of Cultural Heritage of Spain, linkAutor: António (1901-1983) CC BY-NC-ND

Suspension bridge and iron bridge in ZaragozaGirona City council, linkAutor: Un known (1910-1920) Public Domain

Eiffel tower, detail of the top. Eiffel tower, curvature. Eiffel tower and Trocadero.

The Government of Catalonia, link  The Government of Catalonia, link             Girona City council, link

Autor: Gomis i Serdañons, Joaquim Autor: Gomis i Serdañons, Joaquim Autor: Unknown (1900-15)


There are many options in terms of materials to simulate this type of construction: thin sticks, paper tubes, spaghetti, cardboard… And we always think that it is better to reuse discarded materials. As joining material, we can use carpenter’s glue and/or hot melt silicone.

Building process

The initial design made by the students with relevant data on the dimensions of the real object is essential to carry out a good scale reproduction. The students distribute their tasks within the work group and supervise the partial results obtained in each phase.

As we have mentioned before, students are free to choose the complexity of their work, therefore some of them choose to make a simple construction with cardboard and drawn elements, other students add and paste some bar elements on the cardboard, others make a design using a 3D printer and the most daring students make a model with only bar elements.

Eiffel Tower built on three independent modules.

Screenshots taken by students from Tinkercad – CC BY José María Díaz Fuentes

The various options chosen

  • Bridges

Some of our students preferred to build a simple bridge using spaghetti or paper tubes. After several testing and assembly sessions, they had finished their work. I encouraged them to carry out a more complex construction but they did not dare to do it and, on the other hand, they began to see the results of the other option chosen by the majority and they joined the realization of a common project.

  • Eiffel Tower as a majority final election

We first introduce the target with easy builds: Paper and reinforced paper. It was necessary for the students to become familiar with the geometry and structure of the tower.

Later we go further, investigating the interior structure and reasoning why the Eiffel Tower is so resistant.

Finally, the tower was assembled and we began to add some characteristic details that make this structure so peculiar and attractive.

As a final product we already had our finished projects. The objectives of the Technology area had been satisfactorily met. One more step to achieve bolder goals was to present our work at the science fair that takes place every year in our city. In this way, our students made their project known to a very wide audience (all the schools in our area and the general public), in addition, the students acquired remarkable skills in oral and gestural expression when interacting with people of different ages.

Finally, we were able to take a whole group photo of all the students who have participated in the construction of this school’s Eiffel Tower.

Exhibition of work done at the science fair on April 25, 2023. Pictures taken by the author –

CC BY José María Díaz Fuentes


The assessment is related to compliance with the phases of the proposed work method. It is a question of verifying that the students follow a logical order of execution of tasks without forgetting the degree of commitment with the work group.

Students can do their own self-assessment and also that of their groupmates. On the other hand, the teacher takes note of the advances, both individual and group, by direct observation.

The students elected their representatives to explain all the work done during our classes to the public that will attend the science fair.

A peculiar way of verifying the work of each student is to check the “signature” they have put on each of the elements they have built. It is a simple three-color barcode that identifies them.

Students sign their work with color codes

Primary learning outcome 

Students have learned to create a work plan that is typical of the Technology subject (Definition of the problem, information search, design, planning of materials, tools and tasks, construction and troubleshooting, verification and improvement proposals) 

Other learning outcomes 

It is evident that to carry out some of these tasks, collaboration between students is needed (good teamwork), improving their logical reasoning and manipulative skills. On the other hand, it is also necessary to include the collaboration of the teacher because some of the tasks were so complex that they required the coordination of several teams of students. 

The implementation of this learning scenario supports the learning acquired in the subject of History within the period that concerns us. It is also true that the Unit chosen to carry out this project within our subject is in line with the construction techniques of different periods of history as well. In this way, we consider that the implementation of this scenario is very interesting and enriching.

A new way of doing

When an educator decides to follow the example of an LS to put it into practice in their class, they connect with other educators who see Education from other points of view, which is always very enriching and, on the other hand, generates new ideas in ourselves. This is the great advantage of participating in a virtual joint work that Europeana provides us through its Teaching with Europeana section.

Implementing our own LS or SoI is not an easy task because it makes us think of other people. It is necessary to justify each of our actions in a reasoned way, and consider how other teachers will understand our writings and the ideas we propose. These actions make us grow as educators and bring quality to our work. Europeana is a platform very rich in sources of information, and its richness grows with the contribution of teachers who invite us to generate new ideas using quality, rigorous resources that respect copyrights.

Did you find this story of implementation interesting? Why don’t you read about the related learning scenario? Industrial Heritage in the 19th and 20th Centuries (EN-CUR-487) created by Tihana Lalić

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Public Domain Mark 1.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Rijksmuseum.

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