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Zoe Laughlin on How to Make, BBC

How to Make

Watch Zoe Laughlin deconstruct three everyday items, before recreating them using innovative materials.

About the programme

Zoe Laughlin, designer, maker and materials engineer is fascinated by the science and technology hidden within the everyday objects we take for granted. In this series, she dismantles and dissect three classic items, to understand the wonders of form, function and material that go into making them, before building her own truly bespoke versions step by step.

To find out more and for iPlayer links, please visit the BBC website. 

Discover the range of qualifications and modules from the OU related to this programme:

How to Make presenter Zoe Laughlin, pouring Liquid Nitrogen

Copyright: © WonderTelevisionLtd

How to make...

Have you ever wondered how something works and how things are made? From DIY toothpaste and washing machines, to the soles of trainers or shoes; watch the experts scramble to re-create these objects and materials in their DIY experiments.



Whether it's your boots, trainers or plimsolls, the sole of any footwear is one of the most important aspects when it comes to design and manufacturing. Watch as Zoe experiments with natural rubber, analysing its pros and cons and demonstrates how scientists have adapted this material to become fit for purpose.


Rough Science extract: Castaway 02/1 BBC 1999 © The Open University (1999)


With seaweed forming the base of this DIY toothpaste, watch the Rough Science team work together to create a natural toothpaste using just seaweed, mint, olive oil and seashells.


Rough Science extract: Clean 6/04: BBC 2 2005 The Open University (2005)

A washing machine

A challenge reserved for the brave: watch as Jonathon from Rough Science handcrafts a DIY washing machine using discarded junk laying around a disused mill.

Meet the OU expert

Dr Alexander Forsey - Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of STEM
Dr Alexander ForseyLecturer in Mechanical Engineering - Faculty of STEMVIEW FULL PROFILE
Dr Alexander Forsey - Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of STEM
Dr Alexander ForseyLecturer in Mechanical Engineering - Faculty of STEM

My research is about how metals deform and behave. I use many material characterisation techniques, but my speciality is to do this by using an image processing technique called digital image correlation (DIC), which allows the deformation of materials to be measured by taking images during the deformation process. My current focus has been on the high-temperature behaviour of welds in steels for nuclear pressure vessels, metal additive layer manufacturing, and phase transformation in stainless steel. However, I have worked on most structural metals throughout my career, but also further afield materials including carbon fibre laminates, nuclear graphite, concrete, glass-reinforced aluminium (GLARE) and foam rubber. I authored on part 1 of T194 Engineering: Mathematics, Modelling and Applications,  which is a maths course for engineers and also dynamics on T272 Core Engineering B and thermodynamics on T229 Heat and Flow. 

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For over 50 years The Open University and the BBC have worked together; co-producing hundreds of hours of programming and bringing learning to life for millions. Find out more about our unique partnership.

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