bridges project book

The Salvadori Center designed the BRIDGES: Build, Research, Invent, Design, Grow, & Explore through Science program as part of a National Science Foundation grant. The program continues to improve student comprehension of grade-specific math and science concepts by using the buildings, bridges and communities that surround us. All of Salvadori’s programs use a collaborative, hands-on project-based approach to learning STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) concepts.

Click here for a free download of the BRIDGES Project Book.

All too often, we hear students ask, “Why do I need to know this?” They question the relevance of math and science to their lives and their futures. Salvadori programs give students the tools they need to answer this question for themselves.

Through hands-on projects and personal exploration, students see the math and science within the classes they enter, the bridges they cross, the parks in their neighborhoods, and the buildings they see every day. After participating in a Salvadori program, thousands of students see their world differently. They not only understand how buildings stand up or why bridges can carry such heavy loads…they understand “why they need to know this” and how math and science is a part of their everyday lives.

Salvadori’s BRIDGES program was designed specifically for students living in the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and the housing authorities of New Haven and Bridgeport, Connecticut. Over the past six years, Salvadori delivered 208 after-school programs to 1,560 students. Salvadori started by offering 12 programs to 4 NYCHA Community Centers in 2008 and grew to include 54 programs in 27 centers in 2012 & 2013 (25 NYCHA Community Centers plus centers in Bridgeport and New Haven, Connecticut).

The BRIDGES after-school program not only served students most in need and at-risk but made learning accessible and fun while reinforcing in-school learning objectives. Salvadori realized its commitment to serving a broad spectrum of students by offering programs in all five boroughs of New York City plus 2 sites in Connecticut. Salvadori reinforced community buy-in by hiring Educators and Assistants from within the communities we served and by providing curriculum-specific training for all our staff and Community Center Directors. Salvadori’s Management Team conducted regular on-site evaluations, provided weekly progress reports, and maintained open communication with on-site partners to ensure the highest quality experience.

Quick Facts – BRIDGES:

  • served 1,560 students in six years
  • provided 208 programs in public housing community centers (each program included 12, 90-minute sessions for students between 8 and 12 years old)
  • served on average 15 students per class
  • provided an impressive 28,080 student impact hours
  • covered topics such as: Skyscrapers; Bridges; Skateparks; Green Design; Landmarks, Monuments & Memorials; and Engineering Cities
  • aligned with National Common Core Standards and grade-specific learning objectives
  • promoted critical and creative thinking as well as an increased understanding of broader STEAM applications
  • taught students to defend ideas while working in teams to solve real-world problems

Independent Assessment shows Significant Impact!

The independent assessment report conducted by Youth Studies, Inc. (YSI) for the fall 2012 Skyscrapers BRIDGES curriculum ~ Skyscrapers ~ showed significant impact on student learning and interest in STEAM careers.

Assessments were conducted across participating program sites for the fall semester of the BRIDGES program; the following are key highlights from YSI’s evaluation of the Skyscrapers curriculum (YSI’s independent assessment of the spring 2013 curriculum ~ Skateparks ~ is slated to be released by later summer 2013):

  • A total of 340 students participated in YSI’s assessment of the fall 2012 Skyscrapers curriculum; 87% of students assessed were enrolled in Grades 3 through 6; 51% were female, and 85% self-identified as “Black” or “Hispanic/Latino.”
  • BRIDGES participants demonstrated a statistically significant increase in their comprehension of scale and proportion concepts relevant to the Skyscrapers curriculum.
  • BRIDGES participants demonstrated a significant increase in their confidence that they can be successful in math and science as measured by the Fennema-Sherman Attitudes Scale (a math and science attitude scale that has been used extensively in education research).
  • BRIDGES participants demonstrated a significant increase in their motivation to pursue educational and career choices in math and science as measured by the assessment items from the Programme for International Student Assessment.
  • BRIDGES participants demonstrated a significant increase in their knowledge of core engineering, design, and architecture concepts relevant to the Skyscrapers curriculum.

The BRIDGES after-school program would not have been possible without the generous support of the National Science Foundation.

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