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The Cambridge Science Festival Comes to U.S. DOT’s Volpe Center

June 22, 2017

Science lovers of all ages gathered recently at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center to attend transportation events as part of the Cambridge Science Festival, an annual 10-day event that engages an estimated 50,000 people with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

This was Volpe’s third year participating in the festival as part of its growing STEM outreach efforts in the local community.

On April 17 and 19, 2017, Volpe hosted three events as part of the Cambridge Science Festival:

  • Making Places: Building with Blocks, for children ages 5 to 9
  • MoveCity: Designing a City that Moves You, for middle and high school students
  • Volpe Talks: Transportation Ideas Worth Sharing, open to all ages

A Volpe transportation planner helps two small children assemble mock cities using cardboard blocks, markers, glue, stickers, and construction paper.

Making Places: Building with Blocks invited children ages 5-9 to learn all about the world of transportation planning. After a brief introduction to the transportation field and what transportation planners do, children engaged in a “place making” activity where they learned about the things that go—such as trains, buses, and bicycles—in different types of places, from cities to neighborhoods to farms. Then, students worked in groups to bring their ideas to life using blocks. At the end, they presented their models to the other students and to Volpe’s transportation planners.

A Volpe transportation planner helps two small children assemble mock cities using cardboard blocks, markers, glue, stickers, ribbon, and construction paper.

MoveCity: Designing a City that Moves You invited middle school and high school students to become a transportation planner for the day. Students engaged in a mock charrette and designed their own cities, including multimodal transportation systems that welcomed skateboard routes and hover board lanes. The students collaborated in teams with professional transportation planners and worked through zoning and permitting before presenting their MoveCities.

Two students, a boy and a girl, laugh while assembling cardboard blocks covered in paper.

Volpe Talks featured five short talks from Volpe employees who are working on important transportation issues such as work zone safety, alternative jet fuel, and distracted driving. The event was well attended by students, scientists, and members of the general public. After the talks, guests took a tour of the Volpe Center’s Boeing 737 flight deck simulator, custom-built driving simulator, and locomotive simulator

Volpe Talks Highlights

Read what some of Volpe’s experts had to say during Volpe Talks: Transportation Ideas Worth Sharing.

Volpe social scientist Hannah Rakoff speaking at Volpe.

Engineer Alex Epstein speaking at Volpe.

Stephen Zitzow-Childs and Andrew Berthaume presenting together before an audience at Volpe.

Peter Herzig stands before an audience at Volpe.

Donald Fisher presents from behind a podium at Volpe.

Updated: Thursday, June 22, 2017
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