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Testing the beach boffins' formula for the perfect sandcastle

By Thanet Times  |  Posted: August 07, 2012

  • BUCKET AND SPADE: The Thanet Times' team of helpers test out the new formula for making sandcastles

  • THE SCIENCE BIT: Thanet Times' reporter, Andrew Woodman, ponders the science of building sandcastles GIBG20120803F-007_C

  • Thanet. Sansastle fun on Ramsgate main sands with Andrew Woodman. Oliver Banks, 7.

  • Thanet. Sansastle fun on Ramsgate main sands with Andrew Woodman. Jack Banks, 9.

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BEACH boffins say they have come up with the formula for the perfect sandcastle, so we took to Ramsgate's Main Sands and put the science to the test.

Most kids know you need a bit of water to keep your sandcastle standing, but scientists at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) have got it down to precise art.

The perfect proportion is one per cent water to sand. Get this right and you could potentially build a masterpiece as high as 20ft says UvA's 'soft matter' research team.

Get the balance wrong and your grand design could become a mushy mess or a crumbling catastrophe.

The team, led by Professor of Complex Fluids Daniel Bonn at UvA's Institute of Physics, tested the theory on cylindrical 'laboratory' sandcastles.

The Thanet Times wanted to test how kids would apply this principle so scoured the Ramsgate's beach for some budding structural engineers.

We squared-off an area of dry sand and challenged the kids to make their best sandcastle.

Without being aware of the complex science behind it, kids knew straight away they needed to head to the sea with a bucket.

Seven-year-old Oliver Bank is from Eastry, he said: "Wet sand is definitely the secret is to a perfect sandcastle. You need quite a lot. I enjoy making sandcastles but the best thing about making them is the feeling you get when it is finished. I always enjoy making sandcastles with my friends."

Oliver's nine-year-old brother, Jack, said: "I think the most important thing is that you put your mind into it. I always start with moat and then put the sand I dig out of the moat into the middle so it make a big dome, then I build the sand castle on that."

Imogen Passmore, 7, from Goodnestone, said: "I start by making a big lump in the middle which I shape into a castle. I then put stones around the edges and decorate it with sea shells."

So impressed where they by the children's castles the nearby KLS Kiosk rewarded the kids with beach toys for the best design.

Martha Jones from KLS Kiosk said: "They all did really well, the sandcastles are impressive."

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