By Magreth D’Kakoko

After spending 3 weeks in Italy this summer, learning about ancient materials, arts and archeology, we proceeded to take the 1.057 class during the fall semester. Based on what we had learnt, seen and what had captured our interests during the fieldwork, we were all bubbling with ideas on the projects we wanted to do in this class.

Working on our 1.057 project in the lab

Project ideas ranged from recreating ancient pigments, to studying the calcium carbonate, to gypsum degradation. After several discussions, reconsiderations and refining of the ideas, we split into four groups, each pursuing a project of their own.

Grace weighing the ingredients needed for the mixes 

Julian, Grace, and I were inspired by the way the Romans used to add sustainable aggregates in their concrete mixes and the need to solve some current sustainability issues. We decided to study the effect of crystallinity of plastic molecules on the compressive strength of concrete that the plastic is mixed in. Our project extends on all the work that has been done in exploring plastic as a concrete additive, whereby we are trying to determine whether the nature of the intermolecular interactions in the plastic would make certain plastics more preferable than others.


Preparing one of the samples for a compression test