Girl Scouts’ STEM Event: Limitless Possibilities


Getting ready for their bridge-building challenge/NNYB

Working together with kits of LEGO® bricks, a Smart Tablet and a six-step guide, each team of two Girl Scouts was ready to tackle its project: building mini New NY Bridges.

“How is the bridge attached to the water?” “How high is it?” “How does the bridge stay up?” They wanted to know the basics first, and GS Service Unit Manager Harriet Mendl smiled. “I think younger kids always learn better with hands-on experience,” she said.

That’s why the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) event Mendl arranged for the Greenburgh/Elmsford troop — part of Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson — included LEGO® Master Builder Aaron Tang, a Bricks 4 Kidz franchise owner.

photo 2

Troy Calkins, PE, enlightens scouts w/Educ. Outreach Admin. Andy O’Rourke /NNYB

Upstairs, older scouts and their parents learned how STEM education is integral to the project. Design-Build Contract Manager Troy Calkins, PE, share his experience on the state’s biggest project.

While for many young scouts the bridge project is a distant goal, activities now can help them attain it, Calkins said. “Get involved with internships, extracurricular activities or events at your school or within your community,” Calkins told them. “Establishing a network now is key to early success.”

The audience of parents and older scouts listened intently — and asked very specific questions. They knew answers as well. To an impromptu question, “What are they building the bridge from?” one teenager responded, “Concrete and steel.”

Tang — who designs enrichment programs for after school, camps and summer parties, and teachs engineering and architecture using LEGO® bricks — fashioned this bridge specifically for the project’s educational outreach team. “It helps kids get an awareness of the bridge and of bridge-building, and how they can relate to it (on a smaller scale).”

GS photo

Busy at work/NNYB

“We started off with a five to 10 minute talk about the model and an introduction to the bridge,” he said. “The kids were given tablets with step-by-step instructions and pieces, and they all finished their bridges.”

The younger ones were presented with a problem to solve — building a bridge — while learning to work as a team and to follow directions, Mendle observed. “It was very positive and fit in with the engineering and technology part of STEM.”

“Speaking with the Girl Scouts was important to me as civil engineering and the engineering profession overall needs more women. As a parent of a young daughter, I think it’s important to nurture a love of math and science from an early age and to encourage girls to explore engineering as a possible career choice.” — Design-Build Contract Manager Troy Calkins, PE.

“We have events that are educational as well as fun and want the girls to grow up and be courageous, have confidence and character,” Mendl said. “We give them the ideas and experience with activities like this (presentation) that may lead to future female chief engineer on a project.”


Madelynn Calkins proudly shows her new poster/NNYB Team

While cookie sales are one activity — this year it’s hi-tech with a digital component — “Girl Scouts are much more,” she emphasized.

Saturday’s presentation and LEGO® project coincidentally kicked off additional events this month: the Regional STEM Festival on March 7, and the Lower Hudson Valley Engineering Expo on March 22.

To learn more about Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson, visit

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2015

U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Create Safe River Lanes

USCG Cutter Sturgeon Bay on frozen Hudson River/USCG

USCG Cutter Sturgeon Bay on frozen Hudson River/USCG

“With two to three cutters on the river every day and all of them moving from one point to another, the river is open to commerce,” Charles W. Rowe, U.S. Coast Guard Public Affairs, Sector New York, said. “There are obviously restrictions based on the ice and precautions that have to be taken. The same can be said every winter.” Rowe explained when and how the USCG cuts through the frozen waters of the Hudson:

“From mid-December until mid-March (or later if ice dictates), we keep open a channel (we call it a track) between NYC and Albany and the smaller ports in between to facilitate the movement of barges up and down the river, primarily so home heating oil can reach the Hudson Valley communities,” he said.

This includes an open lanes for barges transporting supplies from the Port of Coeymans — a staging area for Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) — to the bridge project. “While the ice is getting in the way of transit, the Coast Guard is doing what it’s doing, and that’s clearing a path,” VP Sales & Operations Stephen Kelly said. He would not comment further on TZC’s operations.

Cutters break ice every day of the week along various stretches of river, depending upon the ice.

USCG Cutter Thunder Bay: Catskill, NY/USCG Lt. Zac Bender

USCG Cutter Thunder Bay: Catskill, NY/USCG Lt. Zac Bender

“Our number one mission is to keep this entire track open,” Rowe said. While the lane/track width varies, the ice is cut to allow two vessels traveling in opposite directions to pass safely each other.

They’re used in rotation: this year, he said, the the Sturgeon Bay, Thunder Bay, Willow, Line and Hawser have plowed through the river at a different area any day. “In practical terms, this winter, we have worked primarily from the TZ Bridge north,” he said.

The Coast Guard does emergency aid (“breakouts”) to trapped fuel terminals; however, Rowe said, “the primary responsibility for keeping docks, piers and ports navigable rests with the facility operators. They use commercial tugs to break up the ice in the immediate vicinity of their facilities. The same procedure is followed in NY Harbor.”

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2015

March Roars In, Colorfully, on the River

This morning looked hopeful: about 90 percent of the snow was gone, pavement and sidewalks came back, no salt kicked up under the car as I drove, and all was looking good. Until the afternoon.

Checking out the EarthCam® construction camera, I noticed Upper Grandview reported this AWESOME sunrise today at 6:30 a.m.:

630 am

You can see the ice in this noon photo from Tarrytown:


same location, a blue-hued sight at 5:45 p.m. (two minutes before sunset):

545 pm

We move the clocks one hour ahead next week, and spring begins. It’s my wishful thinking. Plans for tomorrow went south.

Bridge project river work is suspended while the bridge builder continues off site work; its strict schedule includes a two-month shutdown during winter months.

Note that access to the Thruway southbound will be via Route 59 in Nyack from Friday, Mar. 6, at 9 p.m., to Saturday, Mar. 7, at 5 a.m., while the Exit 10 on-ramp is temporarily closed.

Drive safe, everyone. Why do some people need to drive fast in snow? I was food shopping this afternoon, and at least three cars flew past me on the way home. The roads are not like in television commercials, where vehicles never get dirty, and there’s no salt kicked up when they speed through the snow. It’s dangerous weather.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2015

River Dell Students Get First-Hand Career Insight

Clear day and clear view of the project site/NNYB Outreach

Clear day and clear view of the project site/NNYB Outreach

Two chilly weeks ago juniors and seniors from River Dell High School visited the Tarrytown viewing area and learned about the various co-op and career choices — from compliance to finance, architecture to engineering — available with the bridge project.

Students met landscape architect Rebecca Nolan, Community Relations Specialist Dan Marcy, Diversity Compliance Manager Tracey Mitchell, environmental engineer Chris Coccaro, materials engineer Brian Cresenzi, and construction manager Will Torres, PE. Teacher who attended were pleased that professionals from varied careers offered their time and insight.

Applying his finance background to educational outreach: Community Relations Specialist Dan Marcy/NNYB Outreach

Applying his finance background to educational outreach: Community Relations Specialist Dan Marcy/NNYB Outreach

“They took a lot from the presentations and were interested in knowing about the different jobs and what they involve,” principal Lorraine Brooks said. “These kids will continue their education beyond high school — some pursuing trades — and it’s helpful for them to see specifics and get real-world knowledge” about the responsibilities associated with jobs that interest them.

More project engineers were at this presentation, Brooks said, and “teachers reported back they, too, learned a lot.”

What impressed Brooks most was the Outreach Team’s effort to go out of its way — during this visit and last December — to ensure students understood the presentations and that communications matched students’ comprehension levels. “They listened to us and made the kids feel special. It was important to the speakers that we understood them,” she said.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2015

Two Months Later: Batch Plant Update

concreteThere’s a portable concrete batch plant available for a few more hours on eBay. How do I know? I added it to my Watch List two months ago when I first wrote about shopping online and waited for a reply from Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) spokeswoman Carla Julian.

TZC President Darrell Waters issued a statement several days after the December 16 accident.

“We are in the process of determining exactly what happened and why,” Waters said. The investigation is expected to take several weeks, he said, at which time the public will be informed.

As the investigation, and the project, continue, “Safety and environmental stewardship are our top priorities,” he said.

Waters emphasized, “If or when an incident occurs, no matter what the size, we will always use it as an opportunity to review and reassess our safety procedures and operations specific to the project.”

I asked Julian on January 20 for an update and was told TZC will have an update in the upcoming weeks as it finalizes its investigation, and I will receive it when TZC issues it.

One month later (February 16) I again requested an update. Julian told me when she issues the next update, then I will receive it. I asked when. No reply.

This week, however, I learned from another news outlet that the team would soon issue an update. Is Julian selectively dispersing information?

Back to the batch plant for sale.

Several people are watching the one with few sale hours remaining; it’s available only to local pick-ups. Interestingly, last week I received an email from one company I wrote about in December, reminding me one of its mobile machines is ready for shipment at a special price.

I’ll pass. Julian did say she’d issue an update, right?

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2015


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