Engaging pre-college students with hands-on learning
As part of its outreach and education efforts, the Roadway Safety Institute is connecting students of all ages—particularly those underrepresented in the STEM workforce—to opportunities to meet researchers, explore careers, and learn about transportation safety.
The Minnesota chapter of WTS hosts programs for TransportationYOU, a national mentoring program that offers female high-school students activities that introduce them to careers in engineering, technology, and transportation. In an Institute-sponsored activity for TransportationYOU in December 2014, RSI researcher Janet Creaser discussed her work on the Teen Driver Support System (a smartphone-based application that warns teen drivers in real time about their risky driving behavior) and then invited participants to share their own ideas about how to promote safe driving behavior. Students explored this challenging issue through discussion, videos, and interactive activities.
At a January 14 event, the Institute presented a roadway safety activity to 90 students in grades 3 and 4. The Creativity Festival, a program of Success Beyond the Classroom, introduces students to the value of creative thinking across a wide array of fields ranging from engineering to art. During the RSI's presentation, students traveled on "roads" throughout a mock town, trying to reach various destinations. They were then given the opportunity to brainstorm and implement various ways to lower road crashes and congestion, such as changing the layout of the town, creating new navigational signage, and deploying traffic control officers. Through this hands-on activity, students explored how engineers, planners, and policymakers work creatively to promote safe roadways.