Monday, January 23, 2012

Civil Engineering Students Help at Benton Elementary

On Friday, January 13, CACC continued to create a partnership with Benton Elementary, Columbia's first STEM  (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) focused school.  Earlier in the year, our FIRST Robotics Team showcased their skills to the K-5 students, and now our civil engineering students made the trip across town to help test popsicle stick bridges.

Over winter break, Benton teacher John Gerhart assigned his 3rd graders to build a weight sustaining bridge with 100 popsicle sticks.  When his students returned with their bridges, it was time to see how much weight they could hold.  Knowing the career center had an engineering program, Gerhart contacted instructor Brad Mann find out how to properly test the bridges.

Each year, students in Brad Mann's civil engineering classes build bridges out of balsa wood using the techniques and skills learned throughout the year.  The students test their bridges with bars, chains, and sand.  "When John called, I saw it as a great opportunity to partner with a STEM school and to get our students involved with the younger kids," said Mann.  Six students from civil engineering brought the supplies and helped the students test out their bridges.  Some bridges collapsed under the weight, but some held up.  One  bridge held over 75 pounds!

Hickman senior Matt Hamilton found the experience rewarding and fun. "It was fun to watch the kids' expressions as we were testing the bridges.  It's great to see them encouraging each other and getting excited about engineering."

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