Kids discover engineering at Milepost 31

What do you get when you combine an engineer, a group of curious young students and a table full of craft supplies? The answer, we hope, is inspiration.

For the past two years, Milepost 31, the SR 99 Tunnel Project’s information center in Pioneer Square, has hosted engineering activity days for numerous youth groups. These events are designed to teach the kids in attendance about different fields of engineering through a variety of hands-on activities. In addition to having fun, we hope they'll be inspired enough by their experience to further explore science, technology, engineering and math.

The tunnel project provides a great starting point for a discussion about engineering. Participants learn how Bertha, the SR 99 tunneling machine, digs a tunnel. They also learn how engineers are the brains behind Bertha and the kind of infrastructure projects that shape our built environment. Because kids under the age of 13 aren’t old enough to participate in public tours to the construction site, Milepost 31 staff have developed a virtual tour to give them an inside look at tunnel construction.

Interactive activities are at the core of these events. Kids get their hands dirty by mixing different soil conditioners with sand, so they can understand how a tunneling machine stabilizes the ground and improves the flow of soil through the machine. They are asked to build various structures, from catapults to marshmallow-toothpick structures designed to withstand Jell-O earthquakes. Other popular activities include learning how asphalt is made by making chocolate no-bake cookies, and building bridges with craft sticks.

To request a youth group tour, visit Milepost 31’s tour page. 

Participants at Milepost 31 youth events dig into a variety of hands-on activities that explore tunneling and engineering.
August Speaker Series
In addition to youth events, Milepost 31 hosts a regular First Thursday Speaker Series. On Thursday, Aug. 4, Brian Atwater, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey, will discuss Seattle’s medieval tsunami – evidence of which was uncovered during excavations for the West Point Sewage Treatment Plant in Seattle’s Discovery Park.
You can track upcoming events at Milepost 31 by joining our Meetup page, or by regularly checking Milepost 31's web page.