Summer camps spark students’ interest in transportation
Hands-on lessons, field trips, and other activities introduced a diverse group of elementary and middle school students to transportation topics in programs held throughout the summer.
In June, the Roadway Safety Institute (RSI) participated in the White Earth Indian Reservation Summer Academy of Math and Science for the third consecutive year. The two-week day camp teaches students in grades 4 to 8 about math, science, and engineering using American Indian culture and interactive lessons. It is offered in partnership by the White Earth Nation and the University of Minnesota Extension.
This year’s RSI session included a lesson co-taught by Tom Nixon, Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths East Central and West Central regional coordinator, focused on safety and distraction. Nixon explained that since most of the students are often pedestrians and bicyclists, it was important to discuss with them how to be safe and visible. The students also spent time wearing "concussion goggles," which helped underscore the need for helmet use. "The students were engaged and seemed to enjoy the lesson," Nixon said. Another lesson focused on how plants used in roadside vegetation can improve the environment, help pollinators, and control snow.
In July, the Roadway Safety Institute sponsored a safety-themed day as part of the National Summer Transportation Institute (NSTI), during which students took part in a demonstration with the Minnesota State Patrol, toured the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) Regional Traffic Management Center, learned about crash analysis, and “drove” a plow in MnDOT’s snowplow simulator.
During its two-week run on the University of Minnesota campus, the NSTI day camp featured classroom activities, lab sessions, and field trips around the Twin Cities for 31 middle-school students. NSTI is part of a national program designed to attract a diverse range of students to education and career opportunities in transportation. The camp was sponsored by the Center for Transportation Studies with funding from the Federal Highway Administration administered by MnDOT.