Salvadori Design Charrette

By: Rebecca Reilly

The Salvadori Center is a foundation that provides in-school and after-school programs in science and math education to students and teachers in New York City. By encouraging a hands-on approach to building projects, and implementing project-based experiments using practice examples, such as bridges and buildings, students develop a greater understanding of what they are learning. The center also hosts an annual full-day design charrette at the end of the school year.

On June 5th, Sullivan Engineering participated in the Salvadori Design Charrette. The charrette is an annual event where students from multiple schools are presented with a design challenge. Time is allotted for brain storming, design, construction and testing. The challengeas limited schedule forces students to manage their time. This yearas design challenge was to build a bridge using only pasta and glue.  The bridge had to span two cardboard piers but could not to be attached to the piers. The completed bridge had to support a weighted toy dump truck. Each design-build team consisted of two architects or engineers and six 4th through 8th grade students. During the brain storming and design session, each student drew the bridge the way he or she wanted it to look. After combining different details of the drawings, each team began constructing their bridges. Construction took up the majority of the day. Many groups modified their design because the original design was not feasible. Understanding which construction methods work and which do not was a valuable concept for the students to learn.

Following the construction period, each bridge was tested for the maximum weight that could be supported, which allowed students to observe the modes of failure based on design. The amost efficienta bridge was considered the lightest bridge that could support the most weight. Despite the fact that this was a competition, the students remained focused on understanding and learning which designs were the most efficient and successful. The Salvadori Design Charrette was a great opportunity for students to learn about the design and construction process alongside design professionals.

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