K-12 Update from the University of Florida (Spring 2019)

Elementary School Career Days feature Transportation Engineering and Hands-on STEM Challenge

Marshmallow astronaut ship activity

This school year, over 600 elementary school students at Alachua County Public Schools have learned about transportation through hands-on STEM activities during their annual Career Day events. Students learned about how all engineers design and build solutions to solve problems and that transportation engineers solve problems like traffic, bridge design and maintenance, and autonomous vehicle technology. Students then got a chance to be an engineer when they were presented with a hands-on challenge to create a space lander for two marshmallow astronauts. Adapted from the Dream Big “Touch Down” activity, students were given cups, index cards, straws, cardboard, and tape. Working in pairs, they learned about design constraints and crafted a prototype that could safely land their astronauts when dropped from 12 inches and 36 inches. Quickly learning the value of sharing and improving on each other’s ideas, students designed creative solutions and discovered the excitement of engineering.

Middle School Girls Design Complete Streets

The STRIDE Center hosted two groups of middle school girls this spring. Fourteen middle school students participated in the UF Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Spring Break Camp and 44 middle school girls from Sarasota, FL, visited the University of Florida for the Girls Engaged in Engineering event sponsored by the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. Each group learned about transportation engineering and the essential components of a “complete street.” Complete streets strive to meet the needs of all users – from drivers in cars and delivery trucks to kids on bikes or on foot. Working in small groups, girls were given different scenarios in which they had to design an appropriate street using either a hands-on magnet board or StreetMix.net, a free online street design tool.


Girl Scouts Learn about Transportation Engineering

Dr. Lily Elefteriadou presented at the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Girl Scout Merit Badge Day Event on Saturday, March 16, 2019. This event introduced Girl Scouts in middle- and high-school to civil engineering. Dr. Elefteriadou gave an introductory overview of transportation engineering and research on advanced autonomous and connected vehicle technologies.


Families Test Their Reaction Time at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital Bicycle Rodeo and Safety Fair

On Saturday, March 16, 2019, the STRIDE Center participated in the annual UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital Bicycle Rodeo and Safety Fair. Over 200 children participated in a bicycle obstacle course and were fitted with a free helmet. At the STRIDE booth run, kids and their parents were challenged to test their visual and auditory reaction times using an online game. Kids and parents then took a pledge to be safe by not wearing earbuds while bicycling or using a cell phone while driving.