Submitted by Sarah Ollenburger
The Baton Rouge Branch runs a program called “Engineer It for Kids,” to educate children about how civil engineering affects their lives every day.
In recent years, the Branch hosted Engineer It in a classroom setting at the Louisiana Arts & Science Museum in downtown Baton Rouge, with the first half of the sessions concentrating on the role engineers play in our everyday lives, and the second half featuring hands-on activities.
This year, the Branch has incorporated the ASCE giant-screen film Dream Big into the program.
With two great civil engineering educational opportunities at the museum, the Branch decided to combine Engineer It and Dream Big on Saturdays by premiering the film to the public and hosting “Engineer It” in a less formal setting beforehand for children to interact with the engineering activities related to the film.
The activities are run by volunteers from the ASCE Baton Rouge Branch, including Stokka Brown, of Natural Resource Professionals, Tyler Branch and Corey Mayeux, of Forte and Tablada, Greg Sepeda, of Sigma Consulting Group Inc., Rebecca LaPorte, of Gresham, Smith and Partners, Nedra Hains, of Chenier Plain Coastal Restoration and Protection Authority, and Sarah Ollenburger, of Hargrove.
One of the activities was an original creation by Stokka Brown, a water resources engineer by day. He constructed a stream table to demonstrate, at a very small and accelerated time scale, the morphological nature of streams trying to reach an equilibrium. The table shows the velocity variations in the stream visually as the sand is transported from the high-velocity sections (cut banks) and deposited in the low-velocity sections (point bars), along with sediment depositions where the stream discharges into the bay area forming a delta.
Another original activity was a Time of Concentration demonstration created by Tyler Branch. He created two surfaces – one with no obstructions to represent concrete or asphalt, and one with pegs in the board to represent the obstructions in rainfall runoff. Using marbles, the children see which surface took more time, and by varying the elevation of the starting position on the board, they were able to demonstrate various slopes of watersheds.
The Branch also used two activities from the ASCE Dream Big educational guide – the Windy City Tower and the Building a Cable-Stayed Bridge.
The summer Engineer It sessions drew several hundred attendees, and the Branch plans more in the future.
Keep up with the many Baton Rouge Branch activities on Facebook, including photos from Engineer It.
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