June 19, 2008

Family: Build Your Kid’s Inquisitive Side at Construction Sites

By Robert Mittendorf, The Bellingham Herald, Wash.

Jun. 19--A foundation of my philosophy as a parent is teaching the girls to be inquisitive.

One way I've accomplished this is by showing them how things work -- from weather to widgets -- and urging them to see what's beneath the surface of an object.

A good way to start is at a consruction site. It's in our nature as humans to build things: Who didn't have Erector Sets, Legos or Lincoln Logs, or played with Tonka toys in a sandbox?

As a structure goes up, you can explain about columns, beams and trusses, and discuss tension, compression and shear forces. You can point out how rebar -- the steel rods embedded in concrete -- reinforces concrete columns, and show how girders are assembled and fastened.

If you get your timing right, you can watch roof trusses being set into place or concrete being poured into forms. Talk to an official at the site if you want to get an idea of when certain phases of consruction will occur. A "bribe" like cookies (have the kids help bake them) is appreciated.

Here are a couple buildings in various phases of contruction:

- The new children's and art museum that's going up at Grand and Flora streets in downtown Bellingham, just around the corner from the library. From the street, you can see how the steel girders girders and the roof trusses are connected.

- The foundation has been dug and the footings poured for the new Lynden city hall at the corner of Fourth and Liberty streets, one block north of the library.

Reach Robert Mittendorf at [email protected] Read his parenting blog at TheBellinghamHerald.com/blogs.


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