Local Bridge Engineers Help Fifth Graders with Truss Bridge Designs
As a part of their STEM curricula, fifth-grade students in New Jersey Public Schools learn about and design their own bridges. Engineers from Pennoni Associates brought their lessons to life by bringing in real bridge sensors, similar to the ones used on bridges owned by local bridge operators, as a part of a presentation to help students understand the structures better for their project.
To assist with this project for talented and gifted fifth-grade students, Cherry Hill Public Schools reached out to Pennoni Associates as recognized experts in bridge design and inspection for assistance. Pennoni staffers volunteered their time and made classroom visits. The end goal of the project is to have the students design and build truss bridges out of toothpicks that can be tested to see how much weight they can hold.
“It is exciting to see the enthusiasm students have for this topic,” said Pennoni Staff Engineer Nate Dubbs, who gave several presentations. “The students were able to pick up on engineering concepts well beyond their years and apply them to their own bridge designs. STEM education is important and it is a pleasure to try to instill knowledge and information in this area.”
The students were engaged with the presentations and full of questions. The West Point Bridge Designer, a program that allows you to design and see the strength and cost of a bridge, and real life bridge monitoring equipment were demonstrated in classrooms to help show how real bridges work. When the lessons were over, many students came up to the engineers to ask additional questions and for tips on their designs.