As a participating state of the TRAC™ (Transportation and Civil Engineering) and RIDES (Roadways In Developing Elementary Students) programs, Louisiana has been equipping teachers across the state for close to 5 years with resources for use in their science, math, and social science classrooms.
Through these federally funded AASHTO educational outreach programs, teachers are invited to LTRC every year for a two-day, hands-on learning event conducted by National Board Certified teachers. During the two days, teachers become the students as they are challenged with interactive activities and equipped with hundreds of lesson plans, a trunk of free supplies, and hours of activities and software that will captivate their students.
“The TRAC Program has eight modules designed to engage students in solving real-world problems while connecting them to the working world of transportation. Students design bridges, build magnetic-levitation trains, plan a city, or learn about environmental issues that impact transportation.,” explained Associate Director, Technology Transfer & Training Mary Leah Caillier Coco, Ph.D. “The RIDES Program is designed for K-8 students with a focus on math and science skills to help students utilize critical thinking skills to solve real-world problems and also learn about careers in transportation.”
As a consensus, teachers who have attended TRAC or RIDES programs agree that this training is unlike any they have ever received.
D.C. Reeves 3rd Grade Math and Science Teacher Amber Perrin explained, “I have bragged to my colleagues each time I have an opportunity by letting them know that this was the best workshop I have attended in my 13 years of teaching. The training provided hands-on activities from the moment we walked in the door. It provided an opportunity to dive in and think/explore like our classroom kiddos do.”
One of the goals of TRAC and RIDES is to introduce these interactive activities to students at an early age to foster an interest in STEM areas, in hopes that students would be inspired to consider careers in transportation and civil engineering. Dr. Coco added, “LTRC feels strongly that we have a responsibility in helping cultivate future engineers for the transportation community. We feel extremely honored that we are able to provide these programs to our education community throughout Louisiana.”