It should come as no surprise that we like everything related to “transportation”; it really motivates us. So, when we were asked to deliver a presentation on Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) to young and inquiring minds in a Lower Mainland elementary school, we couldn’t put our hands up fast enough. ITS are information and communication technologies used to improve travel and enhance safety and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is installing new systems and upgrading current systems on a regular basis.
A Grade five student at Harold Bishop Elementary in Surrey was working on a project about ITS and, as part of his research, he wrote to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. In his letter, he explained that he was interested in learning more about intelligent transportation systems, and the people involved in their design. “I am doing a class project on intelligent transportation systems – to see what kind of transportation lies in the future. I want to find out what your latest ideas about transportation are, and how they can help the world. I just want to show everyone how important it is to travel safe.” Here, we realized, was a child after our own hearts.
We thought that simply sending a reply to his letter wouldn’t do, and decided to gather a few engineering representatives from across the ministry to talk to the class about ITS and other cool transportation ideas. On Jan 23, we got to pay a visit to Harold Bishop Elementary.
Our presentation was intended to be a brief outline of current ITS, including:
- Provincial Highways Conditions Centre
But because the students were so enthusiastic and had so many great questions, our team ended up presenting for over an hour! The Weigh2Go program generated a lot of questions about trucking. We think that a hands on experience helps to build an understanding of a particular topic, so our team brought along an actual traffic signal and a pan-tilt-zoom webcam to help illustrate our points. The kids were no different than many British Columbians… they love webcams and were thrilled that we had brought one in for a special show and tell. The traffic signal was powered up and connected to a switch and most of the students took a turn changing the signal from red to green then yellow and back to red. It was a big hit.
At the end of the presentation and discussion, the teacher presented our team with a lunch bag from the school’s Imagine1Day program as a token of appreciation. But really, the enthusiasm and excitement generated in the classroom about the future of transportation was thanks enough.