The girls of Sisters4Science at Woodson spent the last couple of weeks planning and building their own bridge! Ms. Ayanna Hardy-Fuller and her colleague, Ms. Munah Gwyan, came to teach the girls about civil engineering. Both Ms. Hardy-Fuller and Ms. Gwyan work for Infrastructure Engineering, Inc where part of their job is to plan and build bridges for the city of Chicago. While we don’t think twice about driving over the Chicago River, engineers like Ms. Hardy-Fuller and Ms. Gwyan spend hours coming up with the fixtures and safety measures that go into building a bridge.
The girls got a chance to be civil engineers for a couple of days and see for themselves the work that it takes! To start off the lesson, Ms. Hardy-Fuller and Ms. Gwyan asked the girls about some general structures that you would normally see on a road or bridge. Sheneka said that she always sees sewers on the road and Ms. Hardy-Fuller added that those are actually a very important component of bridges. Whenever it rains there needs to be somewhere for the water to run-off into, and catch-basins (sewers) serve this purpose. Another very important thing that a bridge needs is a guard-rail. When Ms. Gwyan asked the girls if anyone knew what that was, Oshanti told us that it kept cars from going off of the bridge. Also very important!
Once the girls had defined all of the structures of a bridge, they were able to start designing it. Each girl was asked to make a Plan, Elevation, and Section drawing of their bridge. Each of these plans showed a different viewpoint of the bridge the girls would be constructing, and the girls made sure to put plenty of details into their designs just like an actual civil engineer would. Kylie even suggested that everyone label the structures they drew for their bridge so that we would be sure what each piece was for! Once all of the girls had their drawings finished, they were able actually build their bridges. They were first separated into two teams, and then used cardboard, construction paper, and other everyday classroom supplies to construct some pretty sturdy structures. The teams even added their own style to their bridges – Dejah added some neon pink lights to the pavement markings so that people would be able to see when driving at night. In the end, both teams had built solid bridges and everyone saw the amount of work that goes into making the buildings and structures we use every day.