Thursday, March 12th, 2015 – written by STEM Facilitator Kiara Byrd
I am happy to say that we had a special guest today and her name is Ms. Lauren Vanden Berg. She is a Civil Engineer and works for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. She had a presentation for the girls about flooding and how her job helps with that around the country. One of my 8th graders, Stephanee, was really asking questions on how flooding can have different effects in different areas. “I know when I see a flood warning, I want to get out of there as soon as possible.” The girls were also surprised to see a video clip that Lauren showed them of houses bring literally drifted away from flooding. Semajah asked if that can ever happen in Chicago, and Lauren replied that her and her colleagues try to make sure it doesn’t.
After the presentation, Lauren explained that it was the girls turn to build their own
floodplain and see the effects of flooding themselves. We split the girls into 3 groups and they each had their own river design they had to construct. The girls have learned they like to get dirty, so they were not against the activity after learning they will be dealing with dry clay. Each group was really working together and I noticed they each had their own idea and strategy on how to build the river to match the model they were given. When Lauren noticed that one group was finished, she decided to use them as an example of showing the girls a flood
and then the difference when you build certain structures to prevent that. The first group was Destiny, Alana, and Semajah. We asked the other girls to gather around and see what it should look like. Alana volunteered to participate in the demonstration. Lauren used water to show the flood and asked Alana to build a Levee using the clay. After adding the levee, Alana then showed the difference in how the water did not flood as much as before. The other girls had a better understanding and was ready for their turns to see how their floodplain would be. They really liked that this activity was very engaging and that they had a chance to get a little dirty with the clay. I witnessed very good teamwork and that you may be given the same thing but different strategies can arise and that is how engineers think. There is not a right or wrong way in creating something, for it is all about trial and error.