NNYB Interest Sparks Sleepy Hollow High School Engineering Club

Busy river/EarthCam® construction camera in Tarrytown

Busy river/EarthCam® construction camera in Tarrytown

Three little words: Tappan Zee Bridge.

More than 500 students greeted the Outreach Team during Sleepy Hollow High School’s April assembly, armed with questions for special project advisor Brian Conybeare. And a few stumped him.

Rising senior Austen Paris focused on architecture and the new bridge’s shape. “The presentation was well-done. The kids asked thought-provoking questions,” he said. A sidebar from the presentation is the school’s first Engineering Club, which held its initial meeting immediately after the assembly.

Most people, including teachers, came away “very surprised that it’s more involved than we think,” Assistant Principal Anthony R. Baxter commented. His takeaway was the shared use path and amenities; many heard the term “twin spans” for the first time that day.

“It’s a place to spend a couple of hours on a nice Sunday afternoon if you have the time and inclination,” he reflected.

And the kids prepared ahead of time, he said, and asked thought-provoking questions. “A few times Brian said no one mentioned it (question) before,” Baxter said. “He said he’d look into it and get back to them with answers.”

Students and Engineering Club members are inspired after energizing presentation/New NY Bridge Outreach

Students and Engineering Club members are inspired after energizing presentation/New NY Bridge Outreach

Several rising SHHS seniors shared their thoughts with Science/Technology teacher Kevin Doherty, Science Teacher/Department Chair Jason Choi, Math Department Chair Daniel Larkin and Baxter at a post-assembly discussion.

“What about suicide precautions, and what if someone needs help?” Kevon Lewis asked, also curious about lack of rail. “How will humanity be kept safe from the project?” Nikki Seller queried, citing breakdown of harmful air near Philipse Manor bridge.

Choi said while they enjoyed the video, and heard for the first time about the scenic overlooks, the project’s politics are another story, especially if the bridge’s name will be changed.

And before it’s dismantled, newly-licensed driver Heather Brown, excited about passing her road test, looks forward to driving across the span. “I hope it will be a smooth transition for motorists from the old bridge to the new one,” she said.

Brown also wondered how different companies can propose the same project at different prices and time frames. Choi explained it had to do with application, relevance and finance.

“The construction of this new bridge is a once-in-a-lifetime event and we would love for our students to get as much out of it as possible by interacting with the engineers and architects of the bridge,” Choi said.

Special project advisor Brian Conybeare fields students' thought-provoking questions/New NY Bridge Outreach

Special project advisor Brian Conybeare fields students’ thought-provoking questions/New NY Bridge Outreach

Next year’s curriculum will include project components for AP math and science, especially AP environmental science. Baxter felt it would benefit students to hear engineers speak about sturgeon and wildlife, and protections taken to ensure their safety.

“This is the beginning of a five-year relationship with the project,” he said, waxing realistic. “It’s going to be in our backyard for the next few years, and we have the benefit of watching it being built, and learning from what we observe and hear.”

“The New NY Bridge is a once in a lifetime project and we want it to inspire local students at all levels from graduate school and college down to elementary classrooms. The goal of our educational outreach effort at all levels is to use this historic infrastructure project to inspire the next generation of bridge builders here in New York.” — Brian Conybeare, Special Project Advisor to Governor Andrew Cuomo

(Click to read what SH Middle School students say about bridges and art.)

Project officials promised they would be involved with students and the community, TUFSD Superintendent Dr. Christopher Clouet said. Momentum continues in September per the five-year learning plan developed by Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) and the Thruway Authority.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

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