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Kolleen and Eric Backlund completed two presentations to students at Great Valley High School in Malvern, Pennnsylvania on January 10, 2013. The presentations occurred over the student's elective 45 minute 8A and 8B periods on the day of their monthly block day where the students have two free periods with various activities to choose to attend. Kolleen worked with teachers Dr. Paul Burgmayer and Katherine Crabb, both mentors of Women In Science and Engineering (WISE), and WISE president student Nikhita Singh to plan the presentations.
The first presentation outlined civil engineering and its various disciplines. A highlight from the first presentation was after the various civil engineering disciplines were reviewed, a picture of the on-going construction on US 202 in the Malvern-Paoli area was shown. The students were asked to identify what disciplines of civil engineering were involved. The students were able to recognize most of the disciplines involved.
The second presentation was about retaining walls and included a reinforced earth demonstration. Students were asked to build a sand cube without paper and a sand cube with paper every 1.5 inches in removable wood forms. The paper served as a type of soil reinforcement. They were asked what they thought would happen if they stood on the cubes and why. The students were skeptical that either of the sand cubes would hold their weight and were impressed when the sand cube reinforced with paper worked. A quick discussion followed to connect the demonstration to how soil is strong in compression but weak in tension and that reinforcement is added to provide tensile strength to the soil.
Around 20-25 students attended each session and both presentations were well received. After the presentations there was a brief discussion about making the presentations an annual event on one of their block days.
Below are a few pictures from the event: