Contributed by Erin Carey
As soon as Preschoolers showed a little interest in bridges through play and reading, Early Pre-K teachers Ms. Shann and Ms. Molly took notice. Beginning with class discussions to better learn what the students already knew and also wondered about the monstrous structures, a new unit began to take shape. Infusing the foundations of math into engineering, the class investigated the different elements, types, and classifications of a bridge.
Knowing that students learn better when they are interested in a topic, the teachers didn’t waste any time turning the children’s curiosity into a learning experience. To encourage family discussions about bridges at home and to inspire exploration outside of school, the teachers involved parents, asking them to share photos of bridges they saw on their commutes while visiting other parts of Atlanta, or even those in other cities.
What is the purpose of a bridge?
How do you know it is strong enough?
How do you build it?
Over the summer, Atlanta came to a stand-still when a section of the I-85 bridge in Midtown collapsed due to fire. Students were shown a time-lapse video of the rebuilding process of the bridge to illustrate, in real-time, the magnitude of the project. One student, Hazel, went home and excitedly asked her parents to take her to see the bridge because it is “All fixed now!”
Furthering their deep project work to understand the use of bridges, their simple to intricate designs, the various construction needs, and the shapes of the support structures, the class went on a “Bridge Hunt” in Roswell. They visited the covered bridge at Roswell Mill and walked across several bridges at Riverside Park.
With their new-found knowledge, the tiny bridge-hunters were able to recognize and describe the various features of the bridges using complex terms. They stretched yarn to measure and compare the lengths of each bridge they visited and discussed the training and various jobs needed to actually build a bridge.
At Mount Vernon, we open up the world to little people with big ideas.