Connecting the creativity of students in Washington to solutions for safer passage on our roadways.
Since 2005, the I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition and the Washington State Department of Transportation host an annual Bridging Futures contest that taps into the creativity and knowledge of students in Washington.
For the first 8 years we issued a call looking for creative elementary students (grades K-5) to participate in the Bridging Futures Art and Essay Contest. The Bridging Futures Contest helps us educate the public about the importance of protecting both drivers and wildlife on our state’s highways, while getting creative solutions to issues surrounding wildlife and roads from students. To participate in the contest, students created drawings that show how wildlife can safely cross highways. Students also submited a short essay explaining their drawing and answering the question: Why is it important to consider animals when designing highways? We used a helpful lesson-planning guide. Great ways to start a dialogue is to ask students questions like: How do they know when it is safe to cross the road, and then how do wildlife know where to cross? What kinds of animals live in Washington that are trying to cross the roadway? What could we do to make it safer for both the animals and drivers? We’ve seen some amazing ideas over the years – from wildlife crossing guards to fish ladders. See the entries in our 2011 and 2012 contests.
In 2013, due to a unique opportunity, we changed the contest to reach out to Washington high school students. As the Washington Department of Transportation began design to build our state’s first wildlife overpass in the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project in 2015, we chose to ask statewide high school students to submit designs for this overpass. In 2013 we received remarkably innovative ideas for design of this overpass, including two top designs that were awarded $1000 college scholarships each.
This year we are again reaching out to high school students to continue bringing their ideas to the design table as we prepare for 2015 construction. The contest is seeking entries between now and May 2, 2014.