Summer camps spark students’ interest in transportation

circle of kidsNational Summer Transportation Institute campers visited the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization. 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 on how plants used in roadside vegetation can improve the environment, help pollinators, and control snow. Another lesson, co-taught by Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths East Central and West Central regional coordinator Tom Nixon, focused on safety and distraction.

two girls using computerGirls in the Eureka! Program played Gridlock Buster, CTS’s online traffic control game. In another effort, CTS hosted a session for eighth- and ninth-grade girls as part of the Eureka! Program, a partnership between the U’s College of Science and Engineering and YWCA Minneapolis. The program helps girls interested in STEM explore career possibilities and prepare for next steps in their post-secondary education. In the CTS session, the girls learned about traffic management and tested their traffic control skills with CTS’s online game Gridlock Buster.

In July, 31 middle schoolers participated in CTS’s third National Summer Transportation Institute (NSTI), a two-week program featuring classroom activities, lab sessions, and field trips around the Twin Cities. New activities this year included tours of the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization and Hennepin County Public Works, a session with the Learning Jet at the St. Paul Downtown Airport, a bike and pedestrian infrastructure tour on the U of M campus, and the chance to take a spin in MnDOT’s snowplow driving simulator.

NSTI is part of a national program designed to attract a diverse range of students to education and career opportunities in transportation. It was sponsored by CTS with funding from the Federal Highway Administration administered by MnDOT.

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