Archive for the ‘Lower Hudson Valley Engineering Expo’ 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

LHV Engineering Expo: 15th Annual STEM Event

As the bridge project met and hit timeline markers, your intrepid reporter met one of her own: last Sunday I attended the Lower Hudson Valley Engineering Expo at White Plains High School. Yes, my then four-and-one-half week new hip and I.

The first photo includes a black strand sticking up from the cross-section of stay cable. The photo above shows the top of that section with wires bundled into it.

Everyone wanted to see how heavy the section of 18-gauge galvanized rebar was compared to the residential rebar. I wonder if anyone tried to pick up the section of cement.

There were oyster shells — I put two up to my ear and thought I heard a whoosh although not like the ocean — and furry friends like this fish to show the project was protecting life below the bridge.

Weather not withstanding as spring is hiding somewhere, the day of companies, experiments, college and universities, learning and contests was a success. It was reigning STEM. You’re smiling if you understand the reference, and please pardon the pun if you don’t.

Watch for story about kids’ fascination with —  and how they’re learning about — STEM topics and activities in the May 2018 issue of Westchester Family.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2018

Happy Anniversary: Four Years of Blogging

Spring after the project started: “Figure Sitting at RiverWalk Park”/© J. Rosman 2013

Four years ago I began writing this blog about what seemed at the time long-range plans that would “some day” materialize. And now, “some day” is here.

Six hundred ninety-three posts — in addition to countless newspaper and magazine articles — later, I still have mixed feelings about the project. It’s exciting to watch from afar and to cover, and it was an adventure to stand on the new westbound span last December. This area will change forever and will have a safer, more efficient crossing, both badly needed.

Aerial view of new/current spans/(Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo)

However, unless the highway on both sides of the river is also revamped, I foresee gridlock as more cars pour off the bridge in both Westchester and Rockland.

I’m still wondering about the shared use path. Without it, the state would have a majestic new bridge minus the added situations the path is creating. Three years ago I wrote that the belevederes, while interesting, gave little thought to practicality or to those who would use the path. Perhaps there’s still time to add shade.

Educational outreach’s fourth year at White Plains Engineering Expo/© Janie Rosman 2017

One official associated with the project joked last year the state could make money by selling soda, iced tea and water at the viewing areas because people may forget to bring hydration. That’s a good idea: remember, you read it here.

The Peregrine falcons are popular, and everyone wants to know where they are. Type “peregrine” into the search box to bring up falcon-related posts. This photo of their nesting box was taken about two years ago, when the bridge was a skeleton in the river.

Secret revealed! When in New York, they live here on the bridge’s northwest side./NYSTA

Less than eight weeks before the Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge opened, my parents got married. Directions to Lake Placid — where they honeymooned — from New York and New Jersey begin with “Take the NY State Thruway (I-87) north . . .” The new bridge was to open in two months; the Taconic State Parkway was “it” back then, mom said.

* * * * *

This year part of “some day” comes to fruition: two-way traffic will switch to the new westbound span, and the current bridge will be dismantled so the eastbound span can be completed and connected to the landings. They said everything that’s supposed to be completed by 2018 will be finished. So be it!

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2017

Engineering Expo and Recognizing Rebar

Today was a perfect chance to learn about the bridge project, what with plenty of experts at the Engineering Expo ready to answer questions. I bet you were there trying to stump one of them.

Not possible. You’d have learned, however, the main span towers are 1,200 feet apart at each end of the channel, and their platforms are 14 feet thick and more than 360 feet long. It took a lot of concrete — 11,000 cubic yards, to be exact — to fill them. And you’d have learned lots more.

While there I visited several exhibitors and, among other things, learned how sewers are relined using a sophisticated method. What caught my eye was an object on the table that was the same size and shape as something I’ve seen before.

I asked the woman if it was rebar; she said yes, it was, and seemed surprised I recognized it. Between you and me, I wouldn’t know a rebar sample from a hole in the wall had it not been for the educational outreach presentations.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2017

Third Year for the Bridge Project and for this Blog

One future engineer details current and new bridges/NNYB

One future engineer details current and new bridges/NNYB

Sunday afternoon I came home from an appointment and met a neighbor’s daughter in the elevator. I asked how she likes school, and what her favorite subject is. “Science,” she said and told me about the Lower Hudson Valley Engineering Expo at White Plains High School. First time in four years I missed it.

For the past three years I’ve blogged about the project and first wrote about cashless tolls here. It’s almost surreal to think we’ll be driving on the first span this time next year and that the new payment system starts later this month.

Looks like this picture of the cashless toll near Exit 10 captured my black Civic/NNYB

Looks like this picture of the cashless toll near Exit 10 captured my black Civic/NNYB

I wonder if more people will sign up for E-ZPass®, which adds money to a driver’s account via a preferred payment method (credit card for me). When the system registers increased activity through toll plazas, it increases the driver’s monthly reserve amount above a predetermined threshold. I may alternate E-ZPass® with the monthly bill-in-the-mail option next month.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2016

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