by Megan Schaltegger
Two classes of Benton Elementary School fifth graders were invited to the MU transportation simulator lab recently for a morning of educational fun.
Benton’s STEM program partnered with ZouTrans, MU’s “vibrant undergrad and graduate research community,” in the College of Engineering, to bring approximately 50 students to the facility for a lesson on traffic safety, road design and non-motorized transportation.
“They spent a couple hours on all different kinds of traffic simulators,” Civil and Environmental Engineering professor and ZouTrans faculty member Praveen Edara said. “We have a driving simulator, so the kids could get into a car and test drive some of the streets they are familiar with in town.”
Carlos Sun, professor of Civil Environmental Engineering, is the director of the ZouSim suite of simulators.
The group also experimented with a wheelchair simulator, bicycle simulator and virtual reality goggles. Graduate students Zhu Qing, Michael Schoelz and Sandy Zhang, as well as undergraduate student Jacob Kaltenbronn, led the demos for the different simulator scenarios.
This isn’t the first time ZouTrans has worked with the students of Benton Elementary School.
“We’ve been working with Dr. Heather McCullar for a few years with different class projects related to traffic safety,” Edara said.
Following their recent visit to the simulator lab, Edara attended class presentations for the fifth graders’ traffic safety projects.
“It is amazing what they accomplished in their five-to-six week studies, studying speeding issues around their school, pedestrian crossing safety, parking issues and so on,” Edara said.