Recently, one of USM's AmeriCorps VISTAs, Sarah Chang, designed a program called "Weaving Bridges: Creating Self-Supporting da Vinci Bridges" as part of her new STEM Sisters initiative, which will be established as a network for young girls in the Greater Portland area to connect to, find support, and be encouraged to pursue pathways through STEM learning and education.
The first location for this STEM activity was at the Riverton Park Boys & Girls Club Clubhouse where both elementary-aged boys and girls participated in the project. First, they tried to make a self-supported bridge out of popsicle sticks, and then they were taught how a da Vinci bridge is structured. Once they got the hang of the pattern, the six children and three volunteers headed outside to make a large da Vinci bridge out of eight foot boards and other materials generously donated by a local Lowe's.
The kids explored different concepts such as stability and how to adjust the materials to increase the stability of their structure. They were able to put together 10 boards and five dowels to create a self-supported da Vinci bridge that they were able to walk over and held at least an estimated 80 pounds! This STEM activity was a great form of outreach to children in our community!