Human Bridge Shows Class Engineering Can Be Fun
McClelland, Stephanie, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Stephanie McClelland Daily Herald Staff Writer
Not many people can brag that they have built a suspension bridge before lunch. But the fifth-graders at Fox River Grove's Algonquin Road School can.
Robert Dodge, a structural engineer who specializes in designing bridges, showed them how, with the simplest of tools ... a string of rope and themselves.
Dodge, a Fox River Grove resident who works for a Chicago engineering firm, visited the school to get students excited about the field of engineering. The visit tied in with National Engineering Week.
Dodge stressed the importance of strong math and science skills, getting a good college education and loving the details of design.
It was probably the human suspension bridge, however, that really won them over.
With the help of a handful of teachers who served as support posts, Dodge helped students build a small, and less stable, version of the Golden Gate Bridge.
The teachers draped rope over their shoulders as children, serving as anchors, braced it below. The tricky part was adding the suspension, in this case eight fifth-graders.
To get the full suspension effect, the students had to hold on to the rope, lift their feet and dangle. After several failed attempts to stay upright, teacher Jane Szybowicz held her end tight.
"We got it," she yelled triumphantly as she and another teacher kept the bridge in place.
Filip Malyszko, an 11-year-old student watching from the sidelines, could not help but be impressed.
"It was pretty cool," he said. "I really liked how they made a bridge out of people. …