Stadium Project

Photographs, examples, ideas, curriculum links and topic webs.

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Building a stadium for the Olympics is a fantastic project.

The stadium pictured here is made from simple materials: Card, paper, tape, wooden dowels and modeling foam blocks.

Simple tools such as wooden dowel mandrels, scissors and hole punches are all that is required.

It’s a superb challenge for students of all ages and makes a great staff training exercise for schools or businesses since it involves working together as a team to plan and deliver the project.

Jarrow Cross Primary School, Tyne and Wear

This stadium has floodlights and an Olympic torch which lights up and looks like a flame! There are all sorts of events taking place and the audience are truly international - some are even wearing national dress!


Marden High Scool, Northumberland

This stadium was built at Saint James’ Park in Newcastle, home of Newcastle United Football Club.
A group of 30 students worked on the project over the course of a whole day with time out to tour the ground.

Well done Marden High School!

A variety of designs are possible for the stadium but they are all based upon the same basic ‘cantilever’ structure found in most stadia.

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Here are some ideas
for roof structures...

Tubular steel cantilevers are clearly visible high up around the roof area of a stadium.
Their job is to support the roof without the need for lots of steel or stone support columns within the stadium itself which would block the view of the audience.
These photographs clearly show the cantilevers supporting various roof designs.

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Wearmouth Technology College, Sunderland.

Video screen messaging.


It isn’t only the roof and seating that has to be built! There are all sorts of opportunities for design work and innovation.

This photograph shows one group’s idea to have a computerized messaging and display system in the stadium. The video screen was actually a miniature TV which could be used as a pc monitor.

The next step was to program a computer with a series of messages and graphics which could be displayed on screen when required.

Safety systems were also considered eg. fire detection warnings and evacuation procedures for the people in the stadium.
There was also an idea to use live video and provide action replay!

Stage set design for a concert or TV programme


A simplified cantilever structure is ideal for designing a stage set for a theatre production, concert or TV programme such as the ‘X’ Factor or Eurovision song contest.

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This Pentagonal stage design was made by a group of students from Hebburn Comprehensive School in South Tyneside.
The remaining jobs to do were then:
Complete the stage.
Wire up the lights which were suspended from the ends of the cantilevers.
Make the characters for the performance as well as the audience watching the show.

A Solar Powered Stadium?

The energy needs of a stadium should be seriously considered and since there is such a large area of roof exposed to the Sun then why not cover it with solar panels?

In this photograph a variety of garden lights have been used to illustrate how solar energy might be used in supplying some of the energy requirement of a stadium.

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Saint James’ Park Careers in Science and Engineering event.

Building a model stadium is a fun and interesting way to find out about Science in action.
A stadium must have a strong structure to support the heavy load from the roof, seating and people.
Structural engineers use science and mathematics to work out the forces in action in the stadium structure and make sure that the design is a safe one.

Simulations of various strength tests are quite easy to perform and are fun to watch especially when it involves a test to destruction!

Roll tube strength test

This is a very simple but important test to perform in which masses such as marbles are added one at a time to a paper roll tube ‘beam’.

It’s quite incredible how much weight a single sheet of rolled paper can withstand before collapsing and this illustrates really well the concept of strength to weight ratio.

What on Earth do balloons have to do with structures in the real world?

It’s hard to believe but engineers are starting to use air in very strong balloons to increase the strength of a structure as well as decrease the weight and allow more light to get in!

Transparent inflatable roof sections with steel or wood frame surrounds are becoming more and more common in large structures such as stadiums and event venues.
The London Excel Stadium has several very large air supported atriums which let vast amounts of light in and help make the environment within much more pleasant.

Balloon inside roll tube

2.5 Kg and going strong!

Curriculum Links

There are many opportunities for individual subject links ie. where a specific subject area might contribute to the Stadium Project in a way which enhances the outcome and makes a valuable contribution within that subject area and adds to the learning experience.

‘Links across the curriculum’ is a very important aspect of the project since it reflects how Engineers must consider more than the science and maths involved in designing and making a product. Building a stadium involves people, teamwork, problem solving, society, geography, history, maths, communication, ICT, science....etc.

Beyond the design and construction of the stadium there is the running of the stadium and there are aspects of this which give rise to some excellent ‘work related’ activities or simulations. Eg. event planning ; opening ceremony; various operational procedures and scheduled activities; workforce structure etc.



  • Costing the stadium - materials used in construction, size, cost per seat.
  • Financing a large project - loans, investments, wages, running costs.
  • Geometry, shape, size, scale, nets or developments.
  • Seating plans to maximise capacity.
  • Using the stadium - entry cost versus running costs, profitability, sale of food and merchandise.
  • Statistics.  Analysis of stadium use by age, gender, nationality. Stadium emergency evacuation time – mathematical modeling.


  • Properties and strength testing of materials.
  • Selection of materials based upon properties.
  • Strength to weight ratio and related costs of a beam or structure.
  • Forces in equilibrium.
  • Innovative science in action – pressurized air structures, solar power.
  • Design Technology and Engineering problem solving
    • How can we design a strong structure such as a bridge or tower?
    • How does shape affect strength?
    • How can your group be organized into an efficient manufacturing team to produce the required number of paper roll tubes to construct a cantilever(s) of high quality within a time limit?
    • How can seating capacity be increased?
    • How can the stadium roof be raised/opened?
    • How is energy supplied to the stadium and from what sources?
    • How do people receive information?
    • What safety systems must the stadium have?
    • How are the needs of all ages and abilities catered for?
    • How can press and commentary boxes be built in so that all round views are possible?


    • Spreadsheets and graphs linked to maths data.
    • Design software – 3D CAD.
    • Traffic flow simulator.
    • Frame structure strength test simulator.
    • Using laptops and ‘tablets’ like the ipad during project delivery - see notes below.
  • Geography
    • The Olympics as a world event. Countries. Nationalities. Customs. Dress. Food. Language.
    • Local geography. Transport links -bus, road and rail.
    • Economics. Impact on local people, jobs and prosperity.
    • Legacy. How might lives be affected when the Olympics is over?
    • Site identification, land clearance and preparation.
  • Languages
    • Safety instructions and announcements in common languages.
    • Signage.
    • Menus.
    • Literature. Programmes.
    • Commentary.
  • Careers and the world of work
    • Staff organization in a stadium. Job titles and description of responsibilities. Applying for jobs. Writing a CV.
    • Structure within ‘engineering’ - different types of engineering and hierarchy.
    • Qualifications leading to jobs in engineering.
    • Civil engineering and the many and varied careers within it.
    • Professional engineers and Tradesmen. Job titles and descriptions.
  • Examples of specific tasks
    (many have detailed worksheets or supporting references to go with them!)
    • Based upon a list of building materials and their individual costs work out a total materials cost for your stadium.
    • Design a spreadsheet which allows modifications to costs and immediate recalculation of total stadium cost. Extension: introduce a means of taking into account labour costs, overheads, initial land purchase, cost of new roads etc.
    • Design nets (developments) for corner seating for the stadium to maximize seating capacity. The nets are to be made in card. A final version to be fitted in position in the stadium. Instructions to be designed so that others can construct the seating and fit it in position.
    • Design a software based system for sending important information to a stadium screen. Eg. messages relating to:  stadium evacuation; events programme and updates on changes. (a small video tablet or mini lcd screen can be used in the model stadium). Extension to live video system.
    • Design and deliver a dramatic opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics.
    • Design an introductory leaflet for all visitors to the Olympic Games which gives essential information and contact details in emergencies.
    • Plan a timetable of events and activities in the main Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony or a typical day of the games.
    • Work out how many medals (and of which type) are needed for the whole 2012 Olympic Games.
    • Research the history of the Olympic Games and design a presentation for your class which shows how it started and how it has changed over the years.Conclude by saying how you think the Olympics might change in future and why you think the Olympics is important as a world event.

    Using the ipad, tablet or laptop
    during project delivery

    This is a very exciting area for the development of the project and could dramatically enhance the value of the overall experience of the students taking part.

    Imagine a team of 5 or 6 students challenged with the design and construction of a model stadium which they will use to assist in a presentation to a panel of judges as if they are bidding for the contract to build the actual stadium.

    This type of ‘team problem solving task’ is a valuable teaching tool and provides a highly challenging activity for students of a wide age range up to 6th Form level. It simulates a real life situation in a firm of Architects or in a construction company.

    The use of an ICT resource in a practical situation like this can pose problems relating to cables, network access, battery life etc. but could be a supreme addition to the activity in the following areas...

    • Use of the internet to provide a vast range of information from pictures of existing stadiums around the world to tables of data relating to numbers of people renting hotel rooms in London in July and August etc.
    • Use of specific programs or applications related to CAD such as a structural design and test simulator.
    • Use of spreadsheets to calculate and present graphs and tables showing: stadium materials and construction costs; running costs; profitability; usage etc.
    • Use of multimedia programs in the delivery of a professional audio/visual presentation to judges involving all of the above.


    A special mention must be given to a powerful computer based planning tool which students could use to help with the scheduling of their activities throughout the project. It is a ‘scheduler’ which allows a team to plan a whole day of activity and divide it up into clearly defined tasks to be completed by named individuals or subgroups. Timescales are included and the ‘project manager’ is responsible for making sure that the various tasks in the overall time plan are on schedule. If not then action must be taken to identify and remedy the problem. Access to this application alone is a real addition to the project and would greatly enhance the student experience since it simulates the way in which industrial projects are planned and constantly reviewed so as to achieve the overall deadline.


    The ipad is ideal for the task because:

    1. It is highly portable.
    2. Has long battery life.
    3. Easy to use.
    4. Has a web browser.
    5. Has a variety of suitable apps including the project scheduler.
    6. Interfaces readily to projectors or pc’s.
    7. Is an excellent device for high quality presentations.

    Comments are welcomed from anyone on the use of laptops or tablets in this type of situation.

    Topic Webs

    Topic webs have been produced for all of the common curriculum areas
    and these will be published in due course.

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    Topic webs are a great way to link individual subjects to a theme or project. Once the individual topic webs have been roughed out it makes it easier to see links across to the other curriculum areas.

    Please get in touch if you would like to know more about the Stadium Project or if you have any ideas for extending the project in any way.


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