Exploring engineering with 8th grade summer camp

Posted in: Cultural Resources

Bob Frame (yellow safety vest) at the historic Stillwater Lift Bridge with Camp Badger summer students.

Mead & Hunt Senior Historian Bob Frame talked bridges with 37 Camp Badger summer students at the historic Stillwater Lift Bridge on a bright sunny day in July.  Based at the University of Wisconsin’s River Falls campus, 8th graders explore different engineering fields during the week-long camp. Daily field trips are taken to local engineering projects from electric power plants to a biomedical research lab to bridges.  They have fun and learn about the work of engineers.

For Bridge Day, the group started with a talk at the construction site of the new St. Croix River Crossing, a large Wisconsin-Minnesota interstate bridge undergoing preliminary foundation borings. Then they travelled a short distance to the 1931 Stillwater Lift Bridge, which the new span will replace. Mead & Hunt has worked on two projects to plan the historic bridge’s rehabilitation and future conversion to a bike and pedestrian trail bridge.

MnDOT engineers invited Bob Frame to tell the young students about the history of the historic bridge and explain the workings of a vertical lift structure.  Bob passed out historic photos and gave each student a copy of the bridge’s original 1930 plan sheet.

“Every bridge engineer needs a plan,” he told them, “and here’s one for each of you.”  Together they watched a full lift of the bridge and then walked out on the deck to see the bridge tender’s house and talk about truss design, machinery, and rivets. They had a fine day investigating a historic movable bridge.

Camp Badger is a one-week, residential program for Wisconsin and Minnesota teenagers entering 8th grade in the fall.  Sponsors include the UW College of Engineering and other organizations.  Helping out are engineers from the Minnesota Department of Transportation and now Mead & Hunt.  Here is more information about Camp Badger.


Christina Slattery

About the Author

Christina Slattery specializes in historic preservation of transportation and engineering structures. She evaluates the significance of properties ranging from missile defense systems to road corridors, and develops creative mitigation strategies for projects.

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