Archive for the ‘Jamey Barbas’ Tag

STEM Education and Building the New Bridge

Rebar sample is much heavier than it looks/NNYB Outreach

Eastchester parent Beryn Corham’s son came home excited from school. “He couldn’t wait to tell me what happened that day at assembly,” she says. And teachers are thrilled too. According to Westchester teachers, nothing makes a kid’s eyes open wider than holding a piece of rebar (reinforcing steel) like that used in the new Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge or a strand from one of the stay cables that support the main span roadway.

Educational Outreach

Magic definitely happens when the New NY Bridge Project’s educational outreach team brings the state’s largest infrastructure into classrooms. During the past five years, the team has visited more than 60,000 students in the tri-state region and made hundreds of presentations to Westchester students, providing opportunities to see and feel construction materials and safety equipment and get them thinking about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.

Each year the educational outreach program focused on specific aspects of the project.

• Year One (2013-14): Discovery/Geo-tech of the Hudson River
• Year Two (2014-15): Building a Strong Foundation
• Year Three (2015-16): Teamwork and Innovation
• Year Four (2016-17): Bridge Rising

“Looking back, whether it was explaining bridges to a kindergartener or answering complex questions from a high schooler, the real joy was seeing students make the connection between information and understanding,” Public Outreach Coordinator Andrew P. O’Rourke, Jr., says.

With Groups and Clubs

The New NY Bridge Project’s educational outreach team can tailor presentations to specific groups and clubs as they did at the WizGirls conference hosted by American Association of University Woman Westchester (AAUW) that encourages girls to explore engineering and computer science.

NNYB Project Director Jamey Barbas and WizGirls/NYSTA

“WizGirls is an offshoot of AAUW Westchester’s Explore Your Opportunities conference for seventh-graders at the College of Mount St. Vincent in Riverdale that explores all four STEM fields,” program leader Diona Koerner says.

Female scientists lead hands-on workshops and serve as role models for the students. “We chose this [age] group to attract the girls early when they’re still interested, and they’re excited about it,” Koerner continues. “Last year we had a huge response.”

New NY Bridge Project Director Jamey Barbas explained tension and compression to a group of sixth- and seventh-grade girls during a fall 2016 WizGirls conference, after which they applied their new knowledge by assembling mini LEGO® bridges. “Events like [these] are unique opportunities to bring awareness to young women of careers in engineering,” she says.

Combining Fun and Education

During the project’s early years, White Plains Public Library (WPPL) had a Build With K’NEX! program, in which kids built models of the I Lift NY super crane and the new bridge with the colorful plastic pieces.

“It’s an opportunity for kids, while they’re doing something fun, to gain math and engineering skills, to learn how things fit together – shapes, sizes,” says former WPPL children’s librarian Terry Rabideau. “It’s an opportunity to have fun and be creative.”

When the bridge’s main span towers were being built, the project’s Tarrytown and Nyack Outreach Centers added a mini tower crane challenge: participants had to place the tiny construction crew member on a target below using the crane’s controls.

Dan Marcy, who leads presentations with O’Rourke, notes, “Educators are often looking for real-world applications for what they teach in the classroom. Over the years, it has been remarkable to witness how enthusiastic students have been about this project and how they’ve embraced complicated engineering principles, construction components and problem solving.”

Excitement About Local STEM Events

“Learning doesn’t take place in a bubble, and the various components of STEM overlap,” Chairperson and President of STEM Alliance of Larchmont-Mamaroneck, Meg Käufer, explains.

Julpiter Joe’s Astronomy activity allows kids to control a robtic arm at Larchmont’s Hommocks Middle School STEM event. Photo Credit: Alison Mäertins, 2018

The Alliance’s annual festival at Hommocks Middle School in March drew more than 1,200 kids, teens and adults into three hours of fun and learning. Throughout the free Friday night event, attendees could choose activity stations and pre-registration workshops with STEM challenges including a physics lesson in bridge building from O’Rourke, plus marshmallow launchers and a chess master playing multiple games at once.

The annual Lower Hudson Valley Engineering Expo, which held its 15th Expo on April 15, brings more than 100 engineering firms, engineering colleges and public agencies together to introduce students to engineering and technology careers, according to McLaren Engineering Group President and CEO Malcolm G. McLaren, PE.

This West Nyack-based firm is a major benefactor and organizer of the event that incorporates numerous engineering fields whereas it once focused primarily on civil engineering, according to McLaren.

Attendance has grown, attracting students, colleges and corporations from a large geographic area. One typical and interesting observation was of a student who, initially hesitant to walk through the door, became so absorbed he was reluctant to leave when his mother called to him.

In the Classroom

More than 200 students attended Heathcote School’s March HExpo workshops. “It was hands-on, daylong and feedback was positive,” fifth-grade teacher Christine Boyer says. “The kids loved it and saw it as having fun, digging deeper and learning.” When they were using screwdrivers to take appliances apart, “the wheels were turning, and the learning was happening.”

Teamwork building a LEGO® bridge/C Boyer

“One of the greatest joys was seeing students’ eyes light up after answering their questions because it unlocked the door to knowledge, ignited their curiosity and gave them a personal connection to the project as they watched history rising in their own backyards,” says O’Rourke who participated in the event.

In the STEM program that Claremont Elementary School teacher Micki Lockwood designed for her third- and fourth-grade students at Ossining Union Free School District, the younger grade studies electricity, and the older one studies bridges.

Samantha, a Claremont student, loves stem “because I get to experience science, technology, and engineering and math projects at a very young age,” while her classmate Sienna enjoys the variety of activities. “We have a chance to ask questions, imagine and plan and then we create things and talk about how we can improve them.”

Lockwood’s students used K’NEX and LEGO® bricks to study and build bridges with a special emphasis on the new bridge. “We spent a lot of time focusing on cable-stayed bridges since this amazing project is happening one town away from us,” Lockwood says.

Combining Imagination and Concepts

Technology teacher Anthony Rich introduced 3D design to his students at Greenvale and Anne Hutchinson Schools in the Eastchester Union Free School District by using a web-based program called TinkerCAD about three years ago.

“The fourth- and fifth-graders get a half-year of Coding with a program called Scratch and a half-year of 3D design and printing,” Rich explains. While the older children create their own designs, the younger students are learning program basics and concepts.

Ducky, a fourth-grade student at Anne Hutchinson School in Eastchester, likes 3D printing “because I can create anything I can imagine and I can invent and print new things. It lets you have the ability to imagine, plan, then build anything you want.”
Käufer sums it up nicely. “STEM is important because it gets kids thinking in new ways and changes their thought processes. There’s no minor league for STEM.”

Night before new bridge’s westbound span opened/NYSTA

A Work of Art!

ArtsWestchester celebrated the new bridge as a work of art at its gala 2017 fundraiser last November as CEO Janet Langsam feels STEAM education (adding the arts to STEM) is crucial to educating the next generation of creative thinkers. “Art increases motivation, enhances communication and expression and, like science, it helps inspire innovation and critical thinking,” she says.

For information about outreach presentations, contact Andy O’Rourke at andrew.orourke@newnybridge.com or 845-918-2516 or visit newnybridge.com.

My article was originally published in the May 2018 issue of Westchester Family.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2018

Free Coffee and Tea tonight to Thruway Drivers; Last New Year’s Eve on Current Tappan Zee

cuomo-and-officials

‘Tis the last New Year’s Eve for driving across the Tappan Zee Bridge, whose replacement waits to take a new place in Hudson Valley and New York State history.

“This bridge says that when you reject the naysayers, when you reject the doubt, when you reject the insecurity, when you find the confidence and the commonality, and you take all that negative energy and you turn it into positive energy, there is nothing you can’t do,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said earlier this month. “You find that confidence and you find that spot of cooperation and you turn that energy positive, and the sky is the limit.”

If you’re on the Thruway and need to take five or stretch your legs, then stop at any of its 27 travel plazas for free hot coffee and tea from 11 p.m. tonight until 7 a.m. tomorrow.

Wishing you happy and healthy New Year! May the best of last year be the worst of next, and remember, please don’t drink and drive.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2016

TZB Year Four: Progress and Milestones

main-span

Construction on the new 3.1-mile, $3.98 billion project progressed at a brisk pace since June and reached a halfway point in early August.

The new towers — several now with stay cables that are also attached to roadway — and blue girder assemblies paralleling the current span are most apparent. There’s more.

Main span towers and cables

This summer Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) began installing the first of 192 stay cables (July) on the as-yet-unfinished westbound towers to the main span road deck. Each cable contains bundles of metal strands covered in protective sheaths; placed end-to-end the total is 14 miles of sheathing encasing 700 miles of strands.

By September the westbound towers reached their eventual 419-foot heights, and crews removed the self-climbing forms to reveal chamfered (angled) tops.

Twelve pairs of cables are anchored to each side of the towers and tensioned to outside sections of structural steel. The cable bundles increase in size as they move away from the towers to support the 74-million-pound main span roadway.

All four westbound towers are finished; the eastbound towers will be finished by this month. At press time (mid-November) more than 40 of the 192 cables were installed on the westbound span; when finished, crews will focus on the eastbound span’s cables.

close-to-rigging-setting-the-strut

Constructing the roadway

Also in July the first 40-foot-long steel sections and prefabricated road deck panels were installed across the main span crossbeams and working outward in each direction.

When the steel and deck panels extended far enough from the crossbeams — as when the towers reached a certain height — workers began attaching and tensioning the cables that will support the main span roadway, and then the roadway will built across the main span channel.

Final structural steel was installed as much as can be on the eastbound span in mid-September and completed on westbound span in early October. Crews are now installing road deck panels.

By next spring/summer traffic will shift to the westbound span so the super crane can start dismantling the current bridge, and work will resume on the eastbound span.

The first LED roadway lighting stanchions (columns) were attached to the westbound span, and workers installed three “turnarounds” — two on the Rockland approach span and one on the Westchester approach span — so emergency responders can quickly get to the either span in case of an accident.

Water lines were installed underneath the bridge’s roadway and will connect to hydrants staggered on the inside and outside lanes. These hydrants will be fed from a dry system (not filled with water until needed) in winter and a water-pumped system during summer months.

river-layers

Educational outreach

The five-year program corresponds to each year of construction and explains the project clearly using understandable terms. Presentations include visuals, examples and props — a piece of galvanized steel rebar (piers, towers), a section of metal strand (stay cables), a square of clear plastic (border wall of walking path).

Educators like Cottage Lane Elementary School teacher Jacob Tanenbaum say they “match exactly what our (technology and science) students are studying in their various classrooms,” which is bridge design.

Engineering, information technology and green building (sustainable design) students at Hudson Valley P-TECH (The New York State Pathways in Technology Early College High School program) in Piermont were interested in traffic patterns when the current bridge is dismantled and how the new bridge will carry the same 140,000-per-day vehicle load. Others wanted to when the spans would open, project costs and projected tolls.

“We have a group of engineering students who are Engineering 105 right now,” P-TECH Principal Natasha Shea. “It’s part of their curriculum with RCC, and they have to design and build a bridge, so this fits into what they’re learning.”

Marjan Perry’s third-grade class at Liberty Elementary School reads the fictional Pop’s Bridge by Eve Bunting about two boys whose fathers are helping build the Golden Gate Bridge. “They learn all jobs are important, and that projects require teamwork,” she said.

The new bridge is featured in Nyack Public Schools’ new logo created by several high school art students and on the district’s home page. Its inscription reads, “Building bridges for today’s students to cross into tomorrow’s world with equality, innovation and optimism.”

metal-strand-and-cross-sectionInspiring by example

“When I was your age I didn’t know what an engineer did, I didn’t know any engineers,” or in high school or on college, Project Director Jamey Barbas told a group of sixth and seventh-grade girls recently.

Several in Barbas’ workshop about bridge structures — part of a WizGirls conference hosted by AAUW Westchester that encourages young girls to explore technology and computer science — nodded. After learning about tension and compression, they applied their new knowledge by assembling mini LEGO® bridges.

“Events like (these) are unique opportunities to bring awareness to young women of careers in engineering,’ she reflected later. Equally meaningful was her message that you can always change direction.

Barbas was a premed student and took a biomedical engineering class in college, thinking it would assist her in medicine. Intrigued, she switched her studies and career goals.

Legislative mandates/commitments

To comply with the DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) program, mandated by the US Department of Transportation for federally-funded projects, TZC committed to a 10 percent goal ($314 million).

The project costs $3.98 billion ($3.14 billion plus administrative and contract costs)

Through September 2016 TZC recorded $247.9 million in contract-value commitments to DBE firms. Of the 245 trade contractors and professional firms hired for the project, 112 are DBE firms.

One contractor, New York Geomatics, provides surveying and layout.

“We do the office engineering via state-of-the-art computer programs, figuring where to drill, where to pour the concrete and where to place the steel,” Senior Project Surveyor Nobile Basile explained. On the bridge project it places up to four two-man survey crews on the water, and two two-person crews on land, daily.

In some cases, the company devised innovative ways to use equipment for some tasks.

Basile observed during the past three years, “Some surveyors lay out a high rise building, some work on roads or boundary; this project involves every type of surveying and layout, including some in-house, out-of-the-box solutions, It’s been a challenge but we’ve been able to meet expectations.”

night-photo

Looking ahead

Workers began prepping the former toll plaza site in Tarrytown for foundation work on the new 26,000-square-foot Thruway Authority maintenance facility. Traffic shifts in October and November paved the way for crews to start building the new state police barracks south of the Thruway.

“Our consulting firm, VHB, is writing its final analysis for how we can develop Interchange 10 and make it profitable for our residents,” South Nyack Mayor Bonnie Christian, said excited about the positive plans for the village. TZC is using those 14 acres as a staging area.

Last month the Thruway Authority and the village jointly presented South Nyack’s preferred concept, “Alternative F,” for the shared use path and terminus to the community. “We’re pleased both the Thruway Authority and the state were sensitive to our needs,” she said.

For information about the project or its educational outreach program, visit http://www.newnybridge.com/contact/.

Photos courtesy of New York State Thruway Authority and HJ.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2016

WizGirls Conference focuses on STEM Learning

jamey-barbas-presentation

If you can’t work on the New NY Bridge project, then build one of your own.

That’s what a group of 6th- and 7th-graders did Saturday morning after NNYB Project Director Jamey Barbas described different bridge structures like suspension and tension bridges, and projects she’s worked on during her 34 years as an engineer.

jamey-with-students

Barbas’ presentation was part of a WizGirls conference hosted by AAUW Westchester to encourage girls in grades 4 to 7 to explore engineering and computer science.

“WizGirls aims to encourage girls to explore STEM because they tend not to enter those fields,” Branch Co-President Diona Koerner explained. “It’s an offshoot of AAUW Westchester’s Explore Your Opportunities conference at the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale for 7th-graders that focuses on all the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields.”

wizgirls-and-poster

Building a LEGO® bridge is a lot more difficult than it looks even with step-by-step directions. Thank you to Rich, the LEGO® expert, who guided me from fumbling with the pieces to a complete bridge.

Photos courtesy New York State Thruway Authority.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2016

Changes at Thruway Authority Helm and on Board

The bridge made a very cool photo backdrop during media tours and still does!

Last month Governor Cuomo nominated Bill Finch, who was until then mayor of Bridgeport (where my dad was born), Acting Executive Director of the New York State Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation (subject to State Senate confirmation).

Looked like perfect weather for him and Project Director Jamey Barbas that day.

Best wishes to Mr. Finch in his new role.

Returning and new Thruway Authority board members are former state budget director Robert L. Megna and former State Senator Stephen M. Saland.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2016

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