Bridge-Building Competition Engages Students With Active Learning Approach

Science Center of Iowa’s premier “Ready, Set, Build! Bridge-Building Challenge,” event inspired students to consider careers in engineering and transportation and launched a lasting partnership for key transportation agencies in the state.

Seventy-six students and family members from all around Iowa traveled to Des Moines, Iowa to attend the November, 2015 event designed to introduce y­oung students to engineering through an approach based on hands-on learning. Event participants formed 24 teams, and each team had three hours to construct a bridge using a selection of balsa wood, wood clothespins, popsicle sticks, hot glue, and string. The bridges were then tested and judged. Read more

Elementary schools host Family Science and Engineering Nights

Family Science & Engineering Nights are a Vehicle for Transportation Education

Article contributed by Joan Chadde, Michigan Technological University

Barkell Elementary School in Hancock and Chassell Elementary in Chassell, both small towns in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, hosted Family Science and Engineering Nights recently, on Feb. 16 and March 15 respectively, for elementary-aged students and their parents or guardians. The event provided attendees with a hands-on learning experience focused on engineering and science, which also included a lesson on transportation.

Family Science and Engineering Nights are coordinated by Joan Chadde, director of the Center for Science and Environmental Outreach at Michigan Technological University, and a CFIRE partner since 2011.

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Mentoring Young People in Michigan: DeAnte Thompkins Shares His Experiences

DeAnte Thompkins has hired and mentored more than 600 high school students as director of MDOT’s Metro Region Youth Development and Mentoring Program (YDMP), a program he was once in himself. MDOT’s twelve-week program provides summer job training as a foundation for entering transportation-related careers. We recently asked him some questions about his experience with mentorship programs.

What’s a typical work week for the students in the program?

Participants in the program work a standard forty-hour work week. The week is generally broken down into three days of work in the field and two days of mentoring activities. Over the last several years, we have partnered with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources so that the students could help in the beautification efforts of Belle Isle State Park. This provides a very safe work environment for students while still making an impact on a gem of Metro Detroit.

What are some actual student paths after finishing the program?

We have a number of success stories that have come as a result of being exposed to our Youth Development and Mentoring program.  After being exposed to the opportunities in transportation, we have kids go on to major in civil engineering. We have a gentleman that has been with YDMP since roughly 2009 who decided to become an aircraft mechanic because of what he saw during our mentoring event at MDOT’s Aeronautics garage in Lansing. We have other students that went on to get skilled trades certifications because of exposure to that career path. Read more