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MDOT site aims to aid STEM education

The Mississippi Department of Transportation has launched a new website to bolster STEM education in state schools.

The science, technology, engineering and math website is designed to get more students interested in transportation industry careers, particularly civil engineering.

MDOT said the website is part of its ongoing push to provide more educational opportunities to Mississippi’s students so they can better compete in the workforce.

“Our new STEM education site is designed as a tool to raise awareness about the education outreach programs MDOT offers,” said Melinda McGrath, MDOT’s executive director. “This site is a valuable resource for teachers, parents and students.”

An MDOT spokesman said feedback on its social media platforms about the website has been positive. “We have received a lot of engagement from the Mississippi Department of Education, school districts around the state and several national STEM organizations,” said Jason Scott.

The website highlights MDOT’s two free STEM education programs, the Transportation and Civil Engineering (TRAC) program and the Roadways Into Developing Elementary Students (RIDES) program.

TRAC is a hands-on education program designed for use in science, technology, engineering and math classes. It involves students in problem solving activities and introduces them to working in transportation, including using software programs to design and test bridges.

The RIDES program, which MDOT developed, prepares students in grades K-8 to prepare for the workforce of the future by using their critical thinking skills for problem solving.

The new STEM website shows teachers how the TRAC and RIDES programs can benefit their students and shares information on free training courses MDOT provides to teachers.

After completing the two-day RIDES training, teachers receive a RIDES trunk with more than 150 ready-to-use lesson plans, complete with all resources needed to perform the different activities.

After completing the one-day TRAC training, teachers will receive a TRAC resource trunk with the software and materials for their students to begin building their bridges.

Parents and students can find information about the two programs, including how to get the TRAC and RIDES programs in their school.

Visitors to the website also will find details on STEM-related resources including the Mississippi Summer Transportation Institute, a two to three-week residential program to introduce young Mississippians entering grades 9 and 10 to careers in the transportation industry.

Mississippi Transportation Commissioners Dick Hall, Tom King and Mike Tagert issued a joint statement along with the website announcement that called quality education one of the most valuable tools a person can have.

“Education opens the door to many opportunities later in life. MDOT is committed to maintaining and improving Mississippi’s transportation infrastructure by investing in educational opportunities for young people in our state,” their statement said.

The TRAC and RIDES programs have been in schools across the state since 2004 and since then, MDOT said, more than 2,000 teachers have been trained, and more than 40,000 students have received STEM training through these programs.

“These programs are a way to get Mississippi students excited about careers in engineering and the transportation industry,” said McGrath. “MDOT is committed to helping shape the future leaders of the transportation industry.”

Want more?
For more information about MDOT’s STEM education programs, visit its website at
GoMDOT.com/stemeducation.

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