This year, several FDOT districts observed National Bring Your Child to Work Day. In District Three, over 117 children participated in 11 various demonstrations and hands-on activities. Areas they spent time exploring ranged from survey, bridge inspection, materials testing, safety, and traffic operations. The Florida Highway Patrol was also on site with the rollover simulator teaching the importance of seatbelt usage. After morning activities, lunch was provided for the children and parents.
One of the stations at District Seven’s Bring Your Child to Work Day involved a K-9 patrol unit demonstration from the Florida Highway Patrol’s Troop C, based out of Tampa. The children were treated to an up-close look at how a K-9 unit operates, from bomb sniffing luggage and vehicles to a simulated traffic stop with a fleeing suspect. The troopers were a big hit and District Seven looks forward to having them back next year!
In Central Office, the Structures Design Office put together an exercise involving the construction of a 12-foot-long simulated stone arch bridge to illustrate the engineering principles behind this historical bridge type. The three arches that made up the bridge were fabricated from Styrofoam panels cut into roughly six-inch blocks and painted to simulate stone. The intent was to educate the kids about the history, construction, and design of arches through the use of a large tactile model that could be assembled by a group of young students.
I thought it was really fun! I learned what an arch bridge is and how to build one.
– Steven, age 9
The exercise began with a short description by Tom Andres of stone arch bridges and their historical significance with particular emphasis on structural engineering principles. The students were shown a large photo of the finished structure and were given a few construction tips and then were challenged with constructing the completed structure. Each student constructed a deck panel unit from a plan drawing before assembling the 18 blocks into the three four-foot-long arches. This was followed by assembling the continuous 12-foot-long truss type superstructure which rested on top of the arches. The entire bridge was then load-tested by placing stacks of books on top to ascertain the maximum load before failure. Students were surprised and excited by the large number of books that an arch bridge, built primarily of Styrofoam, could support.
Taylor was so excited when I picked her up at lunch. She explained to me how they built a bridge and how much weight the bridge could handle. At the end of the day, she talked constantly on the way home about the wildflower programs, safety for pedestrians, and a hundred other things.
In addition to bridge building, Central Office had a guest speaker, Eleanor Dietrich, who discussed a new book titled What if there were no Bees to the fourth and fifth graders. Grades six through eight planted wildflowers in front of the auditorium. It was both fun and a learning experience, especially for those who were planting flowers for the first time. Safety Office conducted a series of events in the courtyard including safe pedestrian crossing.