Pack 6: Young Engineers Have Fun While Learning

Scouts learn various aspects of engineering/Photo: Dr. Dre

Scouts learn various aspects of engineering/Photo: Dr. Dre

Remember gluing popsicle sticks together to make cabins or airplanes? During an Engineering Awareness day planned for them, Crestwood/Yonkers Cub Scout Pack 6 learned the wooden sticks make strong mini-bridges capable of holding nearly 1/20 of one ton.

The day was arranged to pique their interest engineering, assistant Scout Master Tony Canale said.

the program sprang from an idea several years earlier, when each scout den built a bridge from popsicle sticks and tongue depressors, and civil engineering students the college — where Canale, a geotech engineer on the New NY Bridge project, is an adjunct professor — arranged tours of the labs.

Getting a glimpse into their possible futures/Photo: Dr. Dre

Getting a glimpse into their possible futures/Photo: Dr. Dre

Akin to Engineering Awareness Days for high school juniors and seniors, between 20 and 25 students from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Student Chapter, Chi Epsilon Engineering Honor Society, the Civil Engineering Society and the Honor Society ran the program staffed by the newest Chi Epsilon members.

During the day they discussed safety — they used glue guns and talked about getting hurt at work —– making and testing their own bridges brings the project to their level of understanding, he said.

Engineering involves teamwork and planning/ Photo: Dr. Dre

Engineering involves teamwork and planning/ Photo: Dr. Dre

Their bridge-building project taught the young scouts learned about teamwork and collaborating on a working design. “The kids gave their bridges names and told why they chose the design, and how much they thought their bridge will hold,” Canale said.

Later in the day they load tested their bridges the same way the bridge builder tested for static loads (maximum constant weight it can withstand) and lateral loads (seismic movement and pressure) in August 2013. Were their calculations correct?

College students were tour guides for the scouts/NNYB

College students were tour guides for the scouts/NNYB

“We tried to simplify it and explain it on a level that they would comprehend, and provide fun visuals for each station,” Chi Epsilon President T.J. Bolen, and one of the main event facilitators, said.

New Chi Epsilon members were either tour guides or attended several stations, where the 45 scouts heard engineering students talk about their goals and observed demonstrations:

The New NY Bridge/Earthquake Demonstration, Concrete Canoe — annual competition where engineering schools make canoes out of concrete and race them. “The parents seemed to really be interested in the fact that the concrete itself will float,” Bolen said.

What better way to learn than by a real-life example/NNYB

What better way to learn than by a real-life example/NNYB

Steel Bridge Design — annual competition where students design a steel bridge and test load it. “We related it to their Popsicle stick bridges,” he said.

Fluids lab — demonstrated a hydraulic jump (like the wave created in cruise ship surfing pools, and showed how different fluids change the speed a ball falls).

Solids lab — explained how things can break in a bridge or building.

“They (Outreach Team) talked about the Peregrine falcon nest, and one of the kids knew about it,” Canale said. “This was a good opportunity to have the students think about engineering and science and math, and studying them some day at college.”

Scouts' bridges await tests of strength, movement/NNYB

Scouts’ bridges await tests of strength, movement/NNYB

Then came time to test the three-foot-long bridges (each held about 100 pounds).

“They got excited when it was on the verge of breaking, seeing how much weight it would hold,” Canale said. “It was very rewarding, and there was a sense of teamwork and explaining why it broke,” after which they wanted to cut up their bridges and keep a souvenir piece, perhaps looking ahead to future goals — and maybe tour guides when the next generation of scouts visits Manhattan College.

Thank you to ASCE Student Chapter President Vincent Terron, Chi Epsilon Engineering Honor Society President T.J. Bolen and Scout Master and NNYB geotech engineer Tony Canale.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2015

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