TRAC and RIDES in Motion in Area Classrooms

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.”

“Using the program in my classroom has helped to spark an interest of STEM within my students,” said Shenandoah Elementary Kindergarten Teacher Erica Clements, M. Ed. “My students’ vocabulary has grown greatly. They are able to make meaning through their experiences and apply it to other learning.”

As a participant in TRAC and RIDES, teachers also have access to LTRC, where they can request local engineers to visit classrooms to serve as speakers, teach a hands-on activity, and/or talk to students about the importance of math and science in preparing for their future.

Interested in attending the next TRAC and RIDES workshop?

Another workshop is slated for June 5 and 6, 2017, at TTEC. Please contact LTRC Training Program Coordinator Rebecca Rizzutto at Rebecca.Rizzutto@la.gov or 225-767-9187 to sign-up or get more information.

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