D4’s Andrew Young volunteers time at Filer STEAM event

On a bright Friday afternoon in early April, I had the fortune of tagging along with District 4 TTE Andrew Young as he educated students on guardrail design.

At many scholastic institutions across the state, it’s tradition to host an annual STEAM event focused on real-life applications of science, technology, engineering, art and math. Though participating age groups may vary slightly from town to town, the events typically cover a day’s worth of presentations from various experts.

This year, ITD was asked to join the STEAM event at Filer Middle School because their previously scheduled engineering volunteer was not be able to attend. The school representative stated that prior presentations had focused on bridge design, but that anything focusing on engineering and mathematics was fair game.

“I thought about several ideas to teach the classes something meaningful and interesting,” said Young. “I knew I wanted it to be hands on, fun, and give them an idea of what ITD does for the safety of motorists.”

Breaking the mold from bridge design, Young devised a presentation focused on guardrail education. He began each 45-minute rotation (of which there were six) with an overview of ITD and the various roles within the department. He then delved into explanations of guardrail design, stressing the importance of proper planning and placement.

Each presentation Young gave was peppered with numbers and real-life examples – things that resonated with the purpose of the STEAM event. The real fun, though, began around the 15-minute mark, when students split into smaller groups in order to build their own guardrail, using popsicle sticks and hot glue, before testing its design against a simulated collision.  

“It was interesting to see the designs that the kids came up with,” Young stated. “It was also fun to see the expressions and excitement on each face as the guardrail was crash tested.”

Needless to say, there was a lot of shouting, cheering and smiling at the end of each presentation. More importantly though, there were a lot of students who received a “crash course” education involving the importance of math, engineering and science…a lot of students who are guaranteed to never look at guardrails the same again. 

Published 05-10-19