Our students use their vibrant imaginations, working memories, and scientific knowledge to build intricate structures using blocks, Magnatiles, Legos and cardboard (our collaboratively created Persian palace is but one example!) We now understand that adults use similar skills to create and care for real-world bridges throughout our state.
Our kehillah warmly welcomed two special visitors from the bridge design section of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RI-DOT) to our classroom. Mr. Noorparvar (Laurie’s husband!) and Mr. Mike Savella work in the Bridge Design section of the RI-DOT; they are principle project engineers who oversee several DOT projects and both are involved in designing new bridges and rehabilitating existing bridges. Our kehillah understands that caring for our state’s infrastructure is essential (including maintaining the 700+ bridges in Rhode Isand). “Bridges are important so that people can’t fall into the ocean or any kind of water!” explained Shira. “Or fall on other roads – they help us cross roads,” said Aeden.
“Before we begin,” said Mr. Noorparvar, “we need to talk about safety.” He explained that DOT employees use special objects to keep them safe when they are working on construction sites. First, Mr. Noorparvar pointed to the vest he was wearing; “It has bright colors so people can see and it glows in the dark!” exclaimed Nathan. Then Mr. Noorparvar showed us his hard-hat (“that’s so your head doesn’t get hurt!” explained Leo. “If something falls on your head, the helmet protects you!” said Zemer. “They are like a bike helmet!” exclaimed Aeden.) Mr. Noorparvar showed us a special DOT flashlight and his construction boots with steel in them (“they make a loud sound when you hit them!” giggled Asher).
Mr. Mike and Mr. Noorparvar also showed us a tape measure that they said was 125 feet long. “That’s so very long! As long as our whole school,” said Sabine. Later on during their visit, we unfurled the tape measure and discovered that it reached from one end of our hallway to the other!
Mr. Mike and Mr. Noorparvar brought in models of different kinds of bridges, including arch bridges . . .
. . . covered bridges, post-tension brides, draw-bridges (“I saw a very rusty bridge like that and it was stuck up in the air,” exclaimed Adrian), truss bridges, and suspension bridges (RI has two of them – the Newport Bridge and the Mt. Hope Bridge! “I went on one before and it’s my favorite kind of bridge,” said Zemer. “I’ve been on the red Golden Gate Bridge a thousand times! That’s a suspension bridge,” explained Aeden.)
While investigating the bridges, our two special guests taught us about bridge design. We were excited to learn that arches and columns are used to build bridges . . . just like our Shushan Palace! Mr. Mike and Mr. Noorparvar also taught us that a square shape is not very strong. If, though, we brace squares through the middle, we create two connected triangles – and then we have the strongest shape for building bridges!
“Triangles are so lucky ‘cause they are so strong,” Shira said decidedly.
Showing us a bridge they had created from popsicle sticks, we were told that the triangles created a sturdy structure – strong enough that it could hold us up! Most of us thought the bridge looked too small and delicate to support us (“We might break them if we step on them,” said Millie). We were able to see what would happen, though, if we stood on them . . .
“Hey, they do hold us up!” exclaimed Millie.
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Our Pre-K designers and engineers are now enthusiastically creating bridges in our block area. We invite you to visit our classroom so we can share with you some of our creations!