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STEM/STEAM DAY (November 8): Help the Next Generation of Transportation Professionals Learn about the Safe System Approach

Downloadable Flyer

What is  STEM/STEAM Day?

STEM/STEAM Day is held annually on November 8. This day inspires kids to explore and pursue their interests in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. It’s a great opportunity for STEM/STEAM professionals to hold K-12 outreach events. This year, the ITE STEM Committee wants to highlight ITE STEM Outreach Activities that help kids better understand on a topic that is important to everyone transportation safety.

What is the Safe System Approach?

The Safe System Approach is a new way of planning and designing for traffic safety that is rapidly becoming more widely adopted by the transportation community. The goal of a Safe System Approach is to design and operate our vehicles and infrastructure in a manner that anticipates human error and accommodates human injury tolerances with a goal of reducing fatal and serious injuries. When we think about creating a safe transportation system we need to recognize that people make mistakes and the human body can only tolerate a certain amount of physical forces. These principles are central to the Safe Systems Approach. The Safe System Approach differs from the previous safety practice because its focus is human-centered and fully integrates the needs of all users of the transportation system (pedestrians, bicyclists, older, younger, disabled, etc.). For more information about the Safe System Approach, visit https://www.transportation.gov/NRSS/SafeSystem.


Activity: Can I Stop in Time?

  • Students calculate and measure the distance it takes for a car to come to a complete stop based on various conditions.
  • FHWA notes that speeding is one of the top three most frequent and persistent behavioral safety factors in fatal crashes


Activity: Safety Benefits of Autonomous Driving

  • Student teams conduct online research to learn more about safety benefits accrued at each of the levels of autonomous driving and present their findings to the group.
  • Then each team can debate which level of automation will provide the most safety benefits.


Activity: Streets Have Personality Game

  • Students take on a persona and act out how they would travel on different types of roads. After each turn, the class discusses the implications of the road context and design.
  • FHWA strongly encourages the setting of context-appropriate speed limits and the designing of roads that help to “self-enforce” speed limits.


Activity: Pedestrian Signal Timing

  • Through role playing, students understand how ‘Walk’ and ‘Flashing Don’t Walk’ traffic signal intervals should accommodate pedestrians of all ages with different walking characteristics.

Activity: Points of Conflict

  • Students determine the number of conflict points and the average potential collision angles for different intersection designs


We need your help! – We don’t currently have an activity related to this topic, so we challenge you to create an activity and submit it to us. – If accepted, you and your activity will be featured in a future ITE Spotlite and on the ITE STEM Resources Webpage

Workshop: STEM Outreach 101

On July 31, during the ITE Annual Meeting and Exhibition, the STEM Committee hosted a workshop on how to K-12 STEM outreach in your local area. The workshop covered the following: 

  • Why STEM outreach is so important to the future of our profession (hint: it helps to ensure that our industry has a strong pipeline of diverse, bright, and thoughtful future-transportation professionals!)
  • How to build outreach partnerships with local organizations and schools
  • How to provide high-value STEM content (including tips on best-practices from experienced K-12 STEM outreach volunteers)
  • How to lead a hands-on STEM activity (by doing two activities during the workshop!)
  • Common challenges experienced during STEM outreach (and the solutions!)
  • Helpful resources

National Engineers Week

ITE joined professionals across the country to celebrate National Engineers Week: February 20th to the 26th. Hosted by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), this week is dedicated to increasing public awareness of the countless ways engineers positively contribute to the world in which we live and to motivating students of diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in engineering and technology. The 2022 theme is “Reimagine the Possible”.

ITE is excited to launch a complimentary “Imagine Your Transportation Life” social media challenge to provide K-12 students with a glimpse into the world of transportation STEM careers. Below is a collage of the postings showing how transportation engineers contribute to the profession.


K-12 Transportation-Related STEM Activities


Activities for All Ages

 All Ages - Transportation Search
 Find and answer questions about transportation features with this neighborhood scavenger   hunt.


Elementary-High School - Traffic Design with Nature and RC Cars
Understand how design of a road affects the ability of vehicles to maneuver (horizontal and vertical features, obstacles, lane width, etc.). This is also an exercise in design and presentation skills for older students.


Preschool and Elementary Activities

Preschool and Elementary – Transportation Line Up
Measure the lengths of toy vehicle queues in English and metric units.

Preschool and Elementary – Traffic Waves with Marbles
Understand and experience waves as they exist in traffic through marble modeling.


Elementary Activities


Elementary - Traffic Sign Obstacle Course
Follow the directions on signs and other traffic control devices to
get through the obstacle course and end up at school.

Elementary – Snow Plowing
Students use homemade “snow” on a typical city street section to learn that snowplow operators must do their work in a specific way so that all users can travel after a storm.

Elementary – Streets Have Personality Game
Students take on a persona and act out how they would travel on different street examples. After each turn acting, the class has the chance to discuss implications.

Elementary - Traffic Counts and Signal Timing
Learn how to count traffic at an intersection and how that relates with signal timing and the operation of an intersection.

Elementary - Intersection Safety
Learn about the different types of traffic control devices. Understand how they help people to safely enter and exit intersections.

Elementary – Friction and Ramps
Determine the angle and material covering on a ramp that results in a vehicle’s moving the fastest.


Elementary/Middle School Activities

Elementary/Middle – Pedestrian Signal Timing
Understand how the pedestrian “Walk” and “Flashing Don’t Walk” intervals should accommodate pedestrians of all ages with different characteristics, through role playing.


Middle School Activities

Middle - Paying Tolls
Find out how the way payments are collected on a tolled roadway affects congestion and air pollution.

Middle - Traveling Around Town
Develop a plan to improve the multimodal transportation network in a fictional town.

Middle - Can I Stop In Time?
Determine and measure for yourself the distance it takes to get a car to come to a complete stop based on various conditions.

Middle - Traffic Engineering Equipment
See and be part of an interactive display of some of the tools of the trade for transportation and traffic engineering.

Middle - Sign the Way
Learn about the types of signs transportation engineers use to convey information to drivers and how drivers see signs at night.

Middle - Points of Conflict
Determine the number of conflict points and the average potential collision angles for different intersection designs.

Middle - Analyzing Traffic Counts of an Intersection
Learn how to analyze traffic counts at an intersection.

Middle – Hallway Congestion
Observe, measure, and quantify the interaction between pedestrian density and travel speed in a hallway.


High School Activities

High - Circles, Arcs, and Tangents: the Geometry of Our Roadways
Did you know that all roadways consist of circles, arcs, and tangents?

High - Roundabouts vs. All-Way Stop-Controlled Intersections
Let students "be the vehicle" and learn how to navigate through various intersection types to compare and contrast the vehicle flow capacity of each.

High - Transportation and Climate Change Action Hour
Students will conduct online research to learn more about a topic related to transportation and climate change and present their findings with a call to action based on their findings.

High - Transportation Trends and Tech Research
Conduct online research to learn more about a topic of interest related to transportation trends and technologies.


High – Considering the Safety Benefits of Autonomous Vehicles
Conduct online research to learn more about the safety benefits at each level of autonomous driving.

In addition to ITE’s new activities, these sites all have transportation-related activities:


    K-12 Outreach Presentations/Templates

    How to Put on Effective K-12 Outreach Programs
    Jennifer Lillo

    Educational Outreach: Everyone Can Do It!
    Sarah Hernandez and Karla Corro Diaz

    Transportation Engineering    
    Grant Schultz

    Careers in Transportation and Engineering 
    Monica Suter

    Careers in Transportation Planning        
    Phil Winters

    Can Bike Manitoba
    Clever and informative video to advocate the correct use of bike helmets.


    Information about Transportation Careers

    The following YouTube videos were prepared by Baltimore City (MD) Public Schools for the events in which ITE was involved, all based on careers in transportation.

    These sites have information about transportation engineering and planning careers:

    Resources on Introducing Kids to Engineering

    These sites have general information about introducing kids to engineering:

    Additional K-12 STEM Outreach Resources

    These sites have many K-12 activities but they are not necessarily transportation-related:

    From this site you can order a set of interactive materials designed to be used in Primary Schools, Secondary Schools, Colleges and Universities to showcase careers in transport (from the UK):

    Contact Us

    • Are you a teacher, youth leader, or parent looking for transportation professionals to talk with your kids about STEM careers or assistance with STEM activities related to transportation?
    • Are you an ITE member interested in getting more involved in the ITE STEM Committee's efforts
    • Do you have K-12 STEM Outreach resources or experiences to share with the ITE STEM Committee?

    Email us at STEM@ite.org and someone from our Committee will reach out and respond.

    Featured ITE STEM Committee Activities

    Innov8 with ITE in Celebration of National STEM Day

    We encourage you to hold transportation-themed STEM outreach events throughout the month of November in celebration of National STEM Day. 

    National STEM Day is held annually on November 8th (aka “Innov8 Day”). This day inspires kids to explore and pursue their interests in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. It’s a great opportunity for STEM professionals to hold outreach events.

    The ITE STEM Committee has compiled some STEM outreach resources for National STEM Day, including a series of pedestrian safety-themed STEM activities for kids of all ages (developed by the FHWA STEP Program) and general tips for STEM oureach.

    Click on the handout picture below to open the PDF of National STEM Day outreach resources:

    This is a multi-page flyer that includes a series of activities for kids of all ages as well as information about transportation careers.

    STEM 101 Workshop Recap

    Have you wanted to do K-12 STEM outreach in your local area, but don’t know where to start?

    Are you a seasoned K-12 STEM outreach volunteer who is looking for new tips and tricks to “up your game”?

    On August 25, the STEM Committee hosted an interactive, virtual workshop for those interested in educational STEM outreach with students in grades K-12. This workshop featured presentation from ITE’s STEM Committee members on how to make your outreach both valuable and fun, while avoiding some of the common pitfalls.

    Attendees learned:

    • Why STEM outreach is so important to the future of our profession (hint: it helps to ensure that our industry has a strong pipeline of diverse, bright, and thoughtful future-transportation professionals!)
    • How to build outreach partnerships with local organizations and schools
    • How to provide high-value STEM content (including tips on best-practices from experienced K-12 STEM outreach volunteers – you’ll be able to select a breakouts by student age group)
    • Common challenges experienced during STEM outreach (and the solutions!)
    • Helpful resources

    Workshop Content

    National Engineers Week and Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day

    On March 2, 2021, the members of Women in ITE and STEM committees hosted engaging webinar will introduce middle school and high school students to the exciting and meaningful engineering careers in the transportation field. This ITE panel of women engineers shared their career paths, talked about their most exciting projects, described how their work impacts their communities, and answered questions from the audience. Click here to access the recording of this terrific session

    Several members of the ITE STEM Committee created short videos sharing their perspectives on how they chose to become a transportation professional, how she impacts her community through her job, and the favorite part of her job. They also provide advice to kids considering a career in transportation.

    Access the YouTube playlist or click on individual videos below:

    2020 Innov8 Event: National STEM Day Summary


    Future City Competition: Volunteering

    Learn more about the Future City Competition Program: https://futurecity.org

    Learn how you can get involved with the Future City Competition program in your region: https://futurecity.org/regions

    Future City 2024 Transportation Award Winner

    City Name: Philadelphia, PA
    School Name: Lionville Middle School


    Future City 2020 Transportation Award Winner

    City Name: Salt Lake City
    Team Members: Allison Rice, Nicolas Yendrzeski, Marley Polosky
    Educator: Janell Hudson
    Mentor: Robyn Rice
    School: Maricopa Wells Middle School   
    Future City Region: Arizona



    Future City 2018 Transportation Award Winner


    2019 K-12 STEM Competition Winners!

    The 2019 K–12 STEM competition, designed to promote, encourage, and celebrate STEM-related activities among ITE members. The 2019 competition had a fantastic turnout with 13 entries total. This year, two categories were offered—one for small projects, and one for large.

    Large Category Winner

    The Georgia ITE Section/GA Chapter of the Southern District took home the prize in the Large Category for its project, “GA ITE STEM Day 2019.” On STEM Day, members from across the Georgia Section visited local schools to teach students about the transportation profession and helped promote our industry to the next generation.


    Small Category Winner

    The National Capital Section/Carleton University Chapter within the Canadian District was the winner of the Small Category for its project, “Intro to Transportation Engineering.” During the event, participants ages 11-14 got the chance to work with real transportation engineers and engineering students to solve hypothetical transportation problems set in their community.

    Both winners will receive $250 to use toward future STEM related projects and activities in their area. Stay tuned for a full overview of the award winning projects, photos, and a competition overview in the February ITE Journal.

    Have you been asked to share what you do with younger students? The activities and presentations below are specific to introducing K-12 kids to what ITE does – transportation!