On Tuesday, Oct. 22, eighth-grade students of St. Croix Catholic School met with Kevin Western, Design Director with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to learn the history of the St. Croix Crossing bridge project.
“This is the first of several learning opportunities we are planning this year with the St. Croix Crossing professionals,” St. Croix Catholic’s middle school science instructor Audrey Moorhouse said. “The purpose of this first meeting was to give the students an overview of all the historical, environmental, political, structural and logistical concerns that go into a project of this magnitude.”
Students learned that the project encompasses more than just the bridge itself and includes approach work on both sides of the river. Western explained that in order to meet a variety of stakeholders’ concerns, many mitigation requirements needed to be met, including keeping the existing historical lift bridge intact and creating a five-mile bike loop that incorporates the old bridge. Students learned that the design of the new St. Croix Crossing, an extradosed-type bridge, is a hybrid of a concrete box girder structure and a cable-stayed structure. Western noted engineers are currently building the foundation of the new bridge with steel casings deeply implanted into the bedrock of the bottom of the river and filled with rebar and concrete.
“Today’s presentation gave the students a solid understanding of just how complex and important the St. Croix Crossing project is, and inspired them to actively join in this partnership,” Moorhouse noted.
Last spring, St. Croix Catholic received a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) grant from the Minnesota Independent Schools Forum to provide a unique, real-world learning opportunity to its eighth-grade students. Throughout the 2013-14 school year, students will continue to learn alongside the architects and engineers involved in the design and building of the new bridge. The partnership will culminate with the students developing a new technology, robot sensors, which could be integrated into the initial design of the bridge as a means to sense eventual structural changes.
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