Suspension Workshop

Suspension Workshop

Alexander Aptekar

Architectural Technology & Library /

LEARNING PLACES: UNDERSTANDING THE CITY

Activity Description: Provide a brief description of the activity

In this workshop, you will work in teams and groups of teams to create a model suspension bridge. Your model suspension bridge will be tested until structural failure. In reflections, you will individually analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your modeled suspension bridge.

Learning Goals: What do you aim to achieve with this activity?

• Developing your understanding of suspension structures
• Increasing your analysis and problem-solving abilities
• Sharpening your observation and reflection skills
• Deepening your collaborative team techniques

Timing: At what point in the lesson or semester do you use this activity? How much classroom time do you devote to it? How much out-of-class time is expected?

This workshop should occur towards the beginning of the semester as part of the introduction to observation skills and techniques.

Logistics: What preparation is needed for this activity? What instructions do you give students? Is the activity low-stakes, high-stakes, or something else?

Low-stakes

Each team will utilize the following kit of materials:
• Wood blocks (4” x ¾” × ¾”), 18 min
• String, 8’ lengths
• Straws, 14
• Sheets of paper, 3 @ 4” x 17”
• Scissors
• Masking tape, 3’ length
• Tape measure (only one for the workshop required)

Team goals
Construct a model of a suspension bridge utilizing only the materials provided. The bridge must be strong enough to support at least one cell phone at its center. [Recommendation; offer extra points for every additional cell phone the bridge can support]

Team makeup
Each bridge group will consist of two 3 to 4 member teams. Each team is responsible for one half of the bridge spanning from one of the supporting tables to the center of the bridge.

Bridging the gap
Each bridge group will need to span between two tables set 36” apart.

Bridge assembly
The bridge constructed should include the following parts:
• Anchorage (blocks)
• Deck (paper)
• Main cable (string)
• Suspender cables (straws)
• Tower (blocks)

Timing
Your bridge group will have 20 minutes to develop your solution before testing will commence.

Testing
The structural integrity and quality of your bridge will be tested by checking to see how many cell phones the bridge will be able to support. The class will observe as each bridge is tested. Be ready to document where and what are the causes of structural failure. At 20 second intervals, additional cell phones will be added to the Main span of the bridge until the bridge collapses. [It’s recommended that students be ready to catch their cell phones and have their hands under the bridge at least 3 inches away from the bridge deck]

Assessment: How do you assess this activity? What assessment measures do you use? Do you use a VALUE rubric? If not, how did you develop your rubric? Is your course part of the college-wide general education assessment initiative?

Reflections /Documentation
Each team member will need to post on the Open Lab their reflections on this workshop. Be sure to include the following issues in your reflections:
• What strategy did your team used to solve the problem?
• Did you use the iteration process effectively?
• What were the hardest team organization challenges?
• What are the hardest technical challenges?
• What part of the bridge did you think would collapse first?
• What part did collapse first and why?
• Include at least two photographs, sketches or diagrams in your reflection.

Assessment
This assignment will be evaluated by reviewing your reflections on the Open Lab. The focus of this evaluation will be the lessons learned in this workshop. Additional points will be given for each cell phone your groups bridge could support.

Reflection: How well did this activity work in your classroom? Would you repeat it? Why or why not? What challenges did you encounter, and how did you address them? What, if anything, would you change? What did students seem to enjoy about the activity?

Following are some quotes from student reflections on this project. Additional reflections can be seen at this site:

https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/aptekar-berger2205sp2017/assignments/216-reflection-on-suspension-bridgeobservation-sketch/

“Today’s class project was very challenging and hands on. It is something I enjoyed doing because my team worked well together to create a steady bridge. Although, it took some time to figure out how to actually build a proper bridge was kind of difficult considering I know nothing about architecture or building. My team mates worked together from putting straws together to taking down blocks to the table. Overall, we learned that the anchorage is the most important part which is something our bridge lacked. Now we know for next time what to spend more money on.”
Alexandra Linik

“…

3. I learnt that the cabling is as important as the others structures as well. Since it is suspension bridge, both the weight of the deck and the live loads will be hung by the suspenders. So the connection between the horizontal cable and vertical cables should be strong enough to hold all the weights. And the angle of the cable from the anchorage should be calculated in order to reduce the extra forces.

4. Lastly, I think we can design our towers of the bridge more pretty, because I learnt that putting weights on the towers do not help in order to stabilize the bridge.”
Alice Myint

“In today’s class the most interesting and challenging part was to make a suspension bridge using small wood blocks, ribbon, tape, paper and our creative mind of course. I got to know some of my classmates whom I have worked with throughout the project. I think architectural stuffs sounds like easy, but it’s really not and the worst experience was when we made the bridge and it’s collapsed twice. But we did not lose hopes and we made a well -organized and furnished bridge with beautiful two anchorages and deck. The “deck” should be strong because the weight on the bridge is related on the base and it’s connected to the deck of both sides of the bridge. We put 4 phones on the bridge and it was still in the same position, but however it collapsed when 5th phone added on the bridge. But in the class we had much fun when working with as a group. We were very excited to see how others work done and that was the coolest part because we can learn something how they made their own. Overall, it was very cool, making a bridge with elementary stuffs and a great experience to work with my classmates.”
Mdzafar Sadak

“The class project that we have was pretty intresting because we get to work together as we form two group. One group was to build one half of the bridge and the other group would do the other half of it. The challageing part was trying to combine the bridge and form a deck that could support the weight. We through that it would help but as it turn out after we finish building it and testing it that it wasn’t the deck that we create can support the weight it was the anchor was the most important part of it that would have support the weight of it. The thing that i learn most was no matter what type of bridge that people make if the anchor is not strong enough then the whole bridge would fall.”
Alan Qiu

Additional Information: Please share any additional comments and further documentation of the activity – e.g. assignment instructions, rubrics, examples of student work, etc. These can be links to pages or posts on the OpenLab.

I welcome comments and suggestions. I am be happy to provide you with more documentation including diagrams and photographs for this workshop. Don’t hesitate to reach out by email.

Please share a helpful link to a pages or post on the OpenLab

A Gothic Guide to Brooklyn: Gothic Spaces Presentation

A Gothic Guide to Brooklyn: Gothic Spaces Presentation

Laura Westengard

English/School of Arts and Sciences

Eng 3407 (Gothic Lit. and Visual Culture) https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/groups/gothic-nyc/

Activity Description: Provide a brief description of the activity

Students created a travel guide for visitors interested in finding the “Gothic” spaces in Downtown Brooklyn (and the surrounding neighborhoods). Each group found a space in Brooklyn that they thought exhibited some of the Gothic elements we discussed in class. Then they created a profile of that place that describes the Gothic elements, analyzes the space in terms of one of the theoretical concepts discussed in class, and connects the space to one of the assigned literary texts.

These profiles will be posted on OpenLab along with images and videos. It will become a “Gothic Guide to Brooklyn!”

Learning Goals: What do you aim to achieve with this activity?

This place-based activity was designed to get students to view local architecture as a kind of text that they could analyze in relation to course concepts. They learned to synthesize course materials, apply course concepts to subjects outside of class, perform written and verbal analysis, work collaboratively, and use the online platform to deliver this information with appropriate style.

Timing: At what point in the lesson or semester do you use this activity? How much classroom time do you devote to it? How much out-of-class time is expected?

I introduced the assignment early in the semester and scaffolded some in class activities each week leading up to the presentation (approx. 10-15 minutes a week). As we discussed the assigned readings and course concepts, we kept a running list of Gothic terms and concepts on the course OpenLab site so students had a glossary with which to interpret their chosen location.

Logistics: What preparation is needed for this activity? What instructions do you give students? Is the activity low-stakes, high-stakes, or something else?

Students need time to schedule out of class explorations of the neighborhood surrounding City Tech. I provide them with a handout that explains the requirements, and they also need some way to create images and/or videos of their site. It is fairly high-stakes (10% of the final grade).

High-Impact Educational Practices: Which of these practices based on George Kuh’s High Impact Educational Practices (and other innovative approaches) does this activity incorporate? Choose all that apply.

Collaborative assignments and projects, Open Digital Pedagogy (the OpenLab), Wrriting-intensive projects/assignments, Place-Based Learning, Brooklyn Waterfront

Assessment: How do you assess this activity? What assessment measures do you use? Do you use a VALUE rubric? If not, how did you develop your rubric? Is your course part of the college-wide general education assessment initiative?

I use a worksheet on which each required item and its point value is listed. Next to that item, I included notes assessing the students’ work along with a score. This was not a VALUE rubric.

Reflection: How well did this activity work in your classroom? Would you repeat it? Why or why not? What challenges did you encounter, and how did you address them? What, if anything, would you change? What did students seem to enjoy about the activity?

The first time I assigned this activity, my class was too small to complete it in groups, so it had to become an individual activity. This was not ideal because one of the learning goals was to provide an opportunity for collaboration. The creation of the list of Gothic terms and concepts was collaborative, however, and we also collaborated as a whole class to create and design the OpenLab project. We had a conference-style presentation day in class in which students gave feedback on their classmates’ work. I am currently repeating the activity in a larger class as a group project, and I plan to have the current class add to the existing project site.

Students enjoyed the place-based aspect of the assignment, and they seemed enthusiastic about the creation of online travel-blog style profiles with images and videos. They were very creative!

Additional Information: Please share any additional comments and further documentation of the activity – e.g. assignment instructions, rubrics, examples of student work, etc. These could be in the form of PDF or Word files, links to posts or files on the OpenLab, etc.

Link to Spring 2016 Activity Handout: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/westengardeng3407sp2016/files/2015/01/Gothic-Spaces-Group-Presentation-Prompt-Eng-3407-S-16.pdf

Link to Completed Project Site from Spring 2015: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/groups/gothic-nyc/

Site Visit, Brooklyn Bridge Park

Site Visit, Brooklyn Bridge Park

Karen Goodlad, https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/members/karengoodlad/

Department of Hospitality Management, School of Professional Studies

HMGT 1101, Perspectives of Hospitality Management, https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/groups/goodlad-hmgt1101-f14/

Activity Description: Provide a brief description of the activity

Engage in a site visit of the Brooklyn Bridge Park as well as the surrounding community and lead discussions about tourism on the Brooklyn Waterfront as it pertains to a particular area of tourism.

Learning Goals: What do you aim to achieve with this activity?

A number of goals can be achieved through this place-based activity. Student Learning Outcomes
• Discuss scope of the hospitality and tourism industry
• Gather information from observation in regard to the hospitality industry from a local, national and global perspective
• Evaluate and apply information discerningly from a variety of sources

Timing: At what point in the lesson or semester do you use this activity? How much classroom time do you devote to it? How much out-of-class time is expected?

This activity is positioned early in the semester in order to provide an example of critical observation. But it can be conducted at any point in the semester. Weather is consideration.

An entire class session (2 ½ hours) is devoted to the place-based activity. Students meet at the designated location which is in walking distance to campus, consideration is given to ensure students coming from or going to other classes can do so without concern of being late. In addition to the actual day of visit, 10 minutes is dedicated during the prior class session and 5 minutes in the subsequent class session.

Outside of class it is expected that a student would spend 30-45 minutes in preparation and 15 minutes to reflect. The information gathered can be used to support future assignments.

Logistics: What preparation is needed for this activity? What instructions do you give students? Is the activity low-stakes, high-stakes, or something else?

Faculty should communicate with any industry partners that may be involved in the activity. I secure the date 4-6 weeks in advance and confirm 2 weeks and 1 week prior.

Students receive instruction about the subject specific prep they must do, and are asked to bring facts about tourism as well as the Brooklyn Waterfront in particular. They are also asked to learn about the industry partners that might be involved. In this case The Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy and Brooklyn Roasting Company. In addition, they are told how to find the meeting location and are asked to exchange phone numbers with at least two other classmates.

The activity is low stakes but is used as a support parts for two other written research projects.

High-Impact Educational Practices: Which of these practices based on George Kuh’s High Impact Educational Practices (and other innovative approaches) does this activity incorporate? Choose all that apply.

First-year seminars and experiences, Collaborative assignments and projects, Open Digital Pedagogy (the OpenLab), Place-Based Learning, Brooklyn Waterfront

Assessment: How do you assess this activity? What assessment measures do you use? Do you use a VALUE rubric? If not, how did you develop your rubric? Is your course part of the college-wide general education assessment initiative?

A rubric is not used for this particular activity. Assessment is conducted through reflection.

This course is part of the Gen Ed Assessment initiative but other assignments are used (Information Literacy and Oral Communication).

Reflection: How well did this activity work in your classroom? Would you repeat it? Why or why not? What challenges did you encounter, and how did you address them? What, if anything, would you change? What did students seem to enjoy about the activity?

The first time I used this activity was 2011 and it has been an important part of the course ever since. I feel that when teaching, especially first time freshman, it is valuable to model what you expect and use scaffolding techniques.

There are challenges in all assignments and activities, for this one in particular I have found that working with industry partners needs to be done in a diligent manner.

I usually change all my assignments and activities in a small way each time I teach them. In 2014, and then repeated in 2015, I shifted to having the students come prepared with historical facts about the Brooklyn Waterfront instead of having a representative from the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy lead that activity. They seem to find similar facts to the professional representative and are more engaged in the process. The activity is structured in a way that can easily include the shifting development of the waterfront and changes in our student population from year to year and class to class.

Over and over again I find that this is the first time students are at the Brooklyn Bridge Park and are seriously considering what happens on the Brooklyn waterfront. They have expressed excitement about the actual location and meeting with industry professionals. Though the immediate learning opportunity is valuable I find that when students come to me 6 months or a year plus later and say “Remember when we went to the park? That was so cool. I brought my family there to show them all the things that happen there” that the time invested in preparing for and participating in the activity will have positive lasting effects. It is a great way to support critical observation.

Additional Information: Please share any additional comments and further documentation of the activity – e.g. assignment instructions, rubrics, examples of student work, etc. These could be in the form of PDF or Word files, links to posts or files on the OpenLab, etc.

Site visit advice for students: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/goodlad-hmgt1101-fall15/site-visits/

Day of assignment: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/goodlad-hmgt1101-fall15/site-visits/brooklyn-bridge-park/

Student reflection: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/goodlad-hmgt1101-fall15/category/brooklyn-bridge-park-submissions/

Student reflection: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/goodlad-hmgt1101-fall15/category/brooklyn-bridge-park-submissions/

“How Long is the Brooklyn Bridge?” – Field Trip

“How Long is the Brooklyn Bridge?” – Field Trip

Jonas Reitz (with Ezra Halleck) https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/members/jreitz/

Mathematics/ School of Arts and Sciences

MAT 1175 Fundamentals of Mathematics https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/mat1175fa2011/

Activity Description: Provide a brief description of the activity

In this introductory mathematics course students are exposed to a variety of mathematical ideas in the abstract, with relatively few built-in applications or connections to the “real world”. By taking students out of the classroom, exposing them to a local New York Landmark (walking across the Brooklyn Bridge), and asking them to use the mathematical knowledge in the course to estimate the length of the bridge, we allow them to make a concrete connection between their own experience and the ideas in the text. The field trip itself provides plenty of opportunity for informal interaction among students and faculty, and overcoming the practical difficulties (staying together, navigating the New York streets, following instructions, accomplishing the goals of the day) gives the class a shared experience that builds community and trust. We paused at the halfway point of the bridge to participate in an icebreaker activity (a bingo variant, which encouraged meeting and talking to many different classmates). Finally, students were asked to take a photo of themselves on the bridge.
Following the trip, students completed a followup assignment on the OpenLab in which they posted the results of their calculations (how long is the Brooklyn Bridge), their photo from the trip, and a reflection on the process.

The field trip combined two MAT 1175 sections (my own section and a one taught by my colleague, Ezra Halleck), and provided a great opportunity for students in both sections to make connections.

Learning Goals: What do you aim to achieve with this activity?

This activity uses an abstract idea (proportions) to answer a concrete real-world problem, “How long is the Brooklyn Bridge?”. Students compare the time it takes them to talk a known distance (the length of the City Tech block of Tillary Street, from Jay Street to Adams Street) with the time it takes them to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. By solving a proportion, they are able to use their time measurements to estimate the length of the bridge. This demonstrates the underlying idea of proportions in a familiar, outside-the-classroom context, and provides perspective on the abstract notions presented in the text.

In addition, this activity (which took place early in the semester) provided a great way to help establish a sense of community in the class. We took advantage of this activity as a way for students to form groups that included members from both participating sections, which went on to complete a larger group project over the course of the semester.

Finally, this activity was a great way to introduce technical skills – creating a blog post, uploading photos, adding tags, and so on.

Timing: At what point in the lesson or semester do you use this activity? How much classroom time do you devote to it? How much out-of-class time is expected?

This activity took place very early in the semester – the second or third week of class. It was a great way to break the ice, to get students engaged with the material and interacting with one another, and to establish a new perspective on the material at hand and on the college experience generally (especially since this course has many first-time freshman students). This meant that planning had to take place very early – distributing field trip instructions, completing necessary paperwork, and preparing the class for day of the trip. We devoted about 15 minutes in class to discussing the trip (prior to the trip itself), one day of class for the trip, and about 15 minutes in class discussing the results of trip (the week following). We expected students to spend about an hour outside of class writing completing the followup assignment on the OpenLab.

Logistics: What preparation is needed for this activity? What instructions do you give students? Is the activity low-stakes, high-stakes, or something else?

Any City Tech field trip requires proper paperwork to be completed, including permission forms for any students under the age of 18. We provided detailed logistical instructions for the day of the trip, including directions (in case students came late and wanted to catch up with us) and suggestions of what to wear and bring (comfortable walking shoes, weather-appropriate attire, water bottle, camera, stopwatch). We also created written instructions for the mathematical part of the trip, detailing where and how to time themselves walking and emphasizing the importance of maintaining a steady walking pace. The activity is low-stakes but is counted towards their grade – we did not deduct points for wildly unrealistic estimations of the bridge length, for example, as long as they were supported by data recorded on the trip, and calculations were shown clearly. Students that missed class that day were allowed to make it up by following the instructions on their own and completing the followup assignment on the OpenLab.

High-Impact Educational Practices: Which of these practices based on George Kuh’s High Impact Educational Practices (and other innovative approaches) does this activity incorporate? Choose all that apply.

Open Digital Pedagogy (the OpenLab), Place-Based Learning, Brooklyn Waterfront

Assessment: How do you assess this activity? What assessment measures do you use? Do you use a VALUE rubric? If not, how did you develop your rubric? Is your course part of the college-wide general education assessment initiative?

The field trip itself was not assessed, beyond checking attendance. The followup assignment included a list of 5 specific expectations (“Create a new blog post responding to the field trip.”), and this was used as a checklist. The assignment was worth a certain number of points, and a student’s score is based solely on the checklist. We wanted this to be low-stakes in terms of writing — grammar and spelling are not evaluated, and the structure and content of the written work need only loosely fit the instructions.

Reflection: How well did this activity work in your classroom? Would you repeat it? Why or why not? What challenges did you encounter, and how did you address them? What, if anything, would you change? What did students seem to enjoy about the activity?

This is the first time I took students out of the classroom, and I was gratified by the energy and excitement that this simple change of scenery infused in the class. It was great to see students interacting with each other (and with me) in an informal setting, and I believe that the connections that were made that day had a lasting impact on the students’ experience.

I was surprised at the amount of planning and logistics that were involved in even a simple field trip, and in the future I will aim to have my planning absolutely complete prior to the start of the semester. It was difficult to carve out time in our overfull departmental syllabus to allow the trip to take place. While we did not cover a great deal of mathematical content on this day, I still believe it was a worthwhile investment of time – the mathematical content that we incorporated was presented in a way that drove home the efficacy and wide applicability of the underlying ideas, which I think our students will remember beyond the end of the course (unlike the vast majority of the other content).

I think this kind of activity is widely adaptable to many disciplines – for me, this is not a project about studying proportions, but instead about allowing students to experience a connection between course content and the outside world. Asking students to step out of the classroom immediately creates new perspective, and giving them something “hands on” to do involves them in the course content in a way that is difficult to do inside the classroom walls, in the context of a traditional textbook. In addition, the social and emotional impact on the class can be profound – especially in large, “non-major” courses in which students are not already incorporated into a discipline-specific cohort, and may not be predisposed towards engagement in the material.

Additional Information: Please share any additional comments and further documentation of the activity – e.g. assignment instructions, rubrics, examples of student work, etc. These could be in the form of PDF or Word files, links to posts or files on the OpenLab, etc.

Field trip instructions:
https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/mat1175fa2011/assignments/day-5-brooklyn-bridge-field-trip/

Followup assignment:
https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/mat1175fa2011/brooklyn-bridge-trip-followup-assignment/

Student work: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/mat1175fa2011/?s=field+trip+response