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Thread: Help in putting an intro to transpo presentation up for high school students

  1. #1

    Help in putting an intro to transpo presentation up for high school students

    hey all,

    I've been commissioned to give a 50 minute overview presentation on transportation engineering and planning that should be fun, informative, and appealing to kids in the 15-19 year old range.

    I was wondering what are some of your suggestions?
    Stuff I should or should not include?
    Any existing presentations that you can elude me too (other than the ones found on Google)?
    Game / interaction type suggestions?

    thank you,

  2. #2
    Feb 2008
    Toronto, Canada
    I've done this sort of presentation quite a few times as part of National Engineering Week, and though I can't say how amazingly exciting it was for the students, I DO recommend strongly that you have some interactive elements. I think 50 minutes is about 45 minutes longer than you can expect kids to sit still unless you really involve them. Here are a few things I've used (not necessarily all in the same presentation, you have to play it by ear a lot depending on reaction):
    • get them to suggest how transportation affects them, e.g. how did they get to school, how else might they have done it, where did everything in the room come from...
    • have lots of photos of transportation in action and get them to pick out the modes (once you've explained modes) and the land uses they interact with - I have some nice shots of downtowns with docks, rail etc. that I use.
    • I also bring lots of sort of resource photos of modes, infrastructure, famous sites (big bridges, ports, airports, HSR etc.) which are handy to get them to think broadly (beyond their family cars)
    • get them to list pros and cons of modes for passengers and freight
    • list how modes co-operate and/or interfere with each other
    • for something more focused that still covers a lot of the principles that can be extended to regional and national levels, if you have the facilities and a smaller group (say up to 10) I walk them through an intersection design on-screen in Synchro/SimTraffic, let them play with the numbers and see what happens. Set something up on a simple map, and walk them through the steps of a TIS. It's not rocket science as they say, but lets you cover a lot of variations in planning and design (if the crowd is receptive).

    I also throw in an explanation of the principles of optimization, doing as much as you can with limited resources, and trade-offs (e.g. side street green and pedestrians vs. main street, and how the decision changes depending on where you are, time of day, etc.).

    Avoid at all costs doing something right after lunch as they will doze off. Bring snacks if permitted.

    Above all however, I'd be prepared to go off topic often when the need arises so keep a very simple agenda of basics to cover and let the details flow from their interest. Resist the urge to explain everything (this is the hardest part I find) - if you can just impart that transportation is integral to society, and it affects everything, that's a good result.

    For some links, have a look at Ontario's Engineering Month (formerly Engineering Week) site (disclosure: I'm on the steering committee)

    I hope this helps!
    Last edited by Don; 20 Jan 2011 at 12:03 PM. Reason: added link to Engineering Week

  3. #3
    Thanks a lot, this is very useful information. I plan on plagiarizing some of it

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
    Oct 2005
    Well.. they are all about to be or are recently new drivers so there could be an interest there. Talk safety and efficiency. However, traffic engineering is very dry and canned for the most part, especially at the state level. If you can talk traffic calming or get interaction to see what they think about some different roads throughout the community or a recent road project.

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