by Patricia Reiter
A few months ago, a “foodbridge” was not a thing. As of now, it is the imagined creation of three brilliant, young ladies at Tsai Hsing School in Taipei. Ann, Yulianna, and Angel’s “Foodbridge,” pictured here, is the culmination of their vision for how to create a bridge that works toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets a specific need with an actual, employable solution.
These stellar students are pictured below with their self-assigned job responsibilities. Their bridge would connect a palace in Thailand with a very impoverished area that is currently separated by a wall in order to “hide” the situation. The girls proposed a bridge instead, with food left for the hungry. By utilizing food that is nearing expiration, this thoughtful plan helps with poverty, hunger, waste, infrastructure…and access to jobs and healthcare. You can view a video of their slideshow at this link. This unique bridge earned the girl-powered trio a top-finalist ranking! Bravo, girls!
The amazing example set by Bridges to Prosperity (B2P) inspired this brilliance. This organization of engineering marvel, hard work, and heart, scours the planet for places in dire need of bridges. Everyone wins!
Vision & Mission
It did not take long for the students to embrace B2P with both fascination and appreciation for B2P’s incredible work. Our future world-savers got to work creating their own vision and their own mission, based on B2P’s mission.
It was a true delight to see these energetic and intelligent youths embrace such a meaningful endeavor. Each eighth-grade group worked tirelessly within a strict timeline to create a bridge in their own vision. This was not your typical glue-the-popsicle-sticks-and-put-weights-on-them activity.
Driving that point home was the Field Trip LIVE the students took to the many bridges of Portland, Oregon. In addition to looking at the mechanical structures of the bridges, the students discussed the practical and metaphorical purpose of each bridge on this virtual field trip, as you can see in this clip.
It was now time for the students to create their own bridges to prosperity. After the student groups answered the essential questions of who would be helped, where, how, and why, the students transferred their thoughts to a physical design by creating a computer-aided image of their envisioned bridge using Tinkercad.
Who will be helped?
Three very industrious youths, Jordan, Ian, and Ian, worked under their “company identity,” WCPO. You can see the strong correlation between their CAD design and the final project. WCPO also earned top finalist ranking with an impressive presentation, full of “wow’s” and a bit of laughter.
Feat of Engineering
WCPO created a bridge to offer passage over the Bering Strait. Not only did they create a model and structurally sound plan for this feat of engineering, but they created a business logo for all of their work. I especially liked their sandwich inspired double deck…is it obvious that this class happens right before lunch? These boys really “hammed” it up!
Student groups gathered materials from home, focusing on reusable materials instead of purchased items. Finally, they built. See the building process of Ann, Yulianna, and Angel here, on Youtube. The build was limited to four class periods and was completed at school. Each group then presented its bridge, along with its intended purpose, to a group of outside panelists, via videoconferencing. Our panelists, from different educational and occupational backgrounds, evaluated the bridge viability, SDG impact, and quality of the pitch. The finalists were chosen.
Evaluate the Plans
For our culminating event, the esteemed representatives from Bridges to Prosperity joined us live to evaluate the plans and bridges of our seven finalist groups. The students were definitely nervous, standing (virtually) in front of B2P’s engineers and directors, while the rest of the classes looked on eagerly.
Brimming with Joy
As their teacher, I did what every proud teacher does…sat teary-eyed, brimming with joy. The presentations were a success, with the students and B2P enjoying mutual appreciation for the work completed on both sides.
Beyond a Textbook
This experience went way beyond a textbook as it intertwined humanitarianism with learning, leading to the betterment of this earth home we share.
The opportunity to explore the work and diverse talent of the brains behind Bridges to Prosperity connected students to work opportunities and worthwhile, meaningful employment. Not to be underestimated was the knowledge and insight into just how impactful infrastructure, such as a bridge, can be to a person, a family, or a community.
Feat of Engineering
Our students now understand that one simple footbridge can provide an entire village with access to education, employment, healthcare, and a better life. This empowered perspective will serve their brilliant minds well as they move their own talents into the workforce.
Our most genuine appreciation to Bridges to Prosperity for bettering the world every day, and for allowing our students to glean some of their magic. But, it’s always better to hear it from the students, so listen to Ariel share her thoughts.