Student engineers engaging in Q&A session on the Marcus Hook Bridge

Marcus Hook Elementary School first and second graders had the opportunity to experience what it was like to be a bridge engineer for a day.

Inspired by the Chichester School District’s 2018-2019 STEAM initiative, Mrs. Mari Fraley and Mrs. Erin Cusick led these first and second grade students on a journey outside of their classroom walls for a firsthand look at how the construction of the Market Street Bridge had a direct impact on their lives outside of school, as well as how it could influence their learning back in the classroom. Students discussed in length the different types of bridges by their features and usage, participated in website research, and created literary connections during shared reading.

After building their background knowledge, these young engineers took a walking trip to the actual construction site where they were greeted by members of Road Con Inc. and PennDot. With hard hats and bright yellow vests in tow, students made their way under and over the bridge as they learned about the structure, materials, and project costs. Vocabulary used in learning included abutments, supports, piers, trestles, and suspension.

Back in the classroom, students were grouped into engineer teams where they had to create a bridge of their own using basic classroom materials (reams of paper, index cards, and tape). When blueprints were completed, the trial and error process began. Participating in productive struggle and relying on the collaboration of team members, students learned that trial and error is part of the engineering process.

Soon after came cheers of triumph as engineer teams successfully built a bridge strong enough for a wind-up toy car to pass over safely! Mrs. Fraley and Mrs. Cusick truly enjoyed bringing a professional development opportunity to life utilizing the community’s resources.