For the second consecutive year, the Robotics Team at Bow Elementary School participated in the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) competition, solving a “real-world” challenge in their community. FLL is an international program, allowing 9- to 16-year-old students to partake in theme-based Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) experiences.
While no LEGOs are actually used, the purpose of the program is to build important life skills including problem-solving, teamwork, and presentation abilities. The participants work in teams with volunteer adult coaches to guide them towards innovative solutions to the problem they choose.
This November, Senior Transportation Engineer and Project Manager Steve Haas, PE, volunteered to coach Bow’s team of elementary students with this year’s challenge — “City Shaper.”
City Shaper tasks the students with solving a traffic problem currently affecting their community. For this challenge, the students identified a busy intersection in Bow Center (Logging Hill Road at Bow Center Road) and plan to increase safety for pedestrians as the intersection connects three different schools and the Bow Recreation Center. Each team member brought research questions to Steve like, the total number of accidents that have occurred, what would make the intersection safer, and how much would a traffic circle and sidewalks cost?
To help design a solution, Steve brought along sample plans showing aerial photography of the existing intersection and a conceptual “Roundabout” overlaid on the roadway. Together, they identified existing conditions and deficiencies, and targeted potential improvements that would help meet the team’s goals of improving pedestrian safety. Steve also walked them through the project development process (from study to construction); identified potential project impacts that should be minimized (environmental, Right-of-Way, utilities); and reviewed potential funding sources to finance the project.
Engaging the students in “real world” problems has been the focus of FLL since 1998. We are happy Steve was able to share his expertise with the students at Bow Elementary. They were able to see the challenge in a different perspective, ask engaging questions, and most importantly, have fun while strengthening professional skills for their futures.