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Posted 2/22/2018

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By Tim Oberle
USACE Mobile

MOBILE, Ala. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, stopped by the University of South Alabama Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Mobile, Ala., Feb. 20, as part of the district’s National Engineers Week outreach activities.

During the visit, district personnel helped the children construct Popsicle-stick bridges, taught them about the importance of learning science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and handed out Mardi Gras beads and coloring books.

The event marks the second year in a row that the district has conducted outreach to the hospital during National Engineers Week. According to Stephanie Maddox, Mobile County Public School System (MCPSS) administrator and teacher at the hospital, interactive activities like bridge-building help the students remain engaged in the hospital setting and augment the lesson plans for each child that MCPSS provides.

“We are always honored to offer opportunities to organizations like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to engage our patients in learning experiences that are unique and enhance the individualized plans designed for hospitalized children,” said Maddox.

One reason the Corps of Engineers conducts outreach during National Engineers Week is to motivate our nation’s young people to pursue careers in STEM. Natural Resources Program Manager Amy Cobb-Williams explained why that is so important.

“It's important for us to conduct outreach to teach school-age children about STEM in order to build our next generation of innovators and problem solvers,” said Cobb-Williams. “[And] hands-on STEM activities encourage kids to be curious and explore how the world around them works.”

Mobile District Geologist Paul Fluck has participated in the event the last two years and believes bridge building is not only a great way to learn STEM concepts, but also brings out the creative side of the students.  

“Building Popsicle stick bridges is a great way of introducing the kids to basic engineering principles and the importance of our STEM initiatives,” said Fluck. “The kids did a great job making bridges and it was fun to see how each kid put their own personal touches to their bridge design.”

National Engineers Week was founded in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers. The dates are chosen each year to coincide with the birthday of President George Washington, America's first engineer.