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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Transportation Systems Engineering

Teacher Resource Center

Lesson Overview
Lesson Title:
Traffic Jams: Clearing Traffic-flow in the Hallways. (Previously titled: Poundin' the Halls at Pound School

Mr. Gary Furse (Primary)

Brief Description:
Purpose: Students will locate and identify areas that cause congestion in the pedestrian traffic flow of their school hallways. They will compute optimal rates of traffic flow by determining the average area occupied by a walking pedestrian, determining the available traffic area, and observing and measuring the rates of change through bottlenecks/choke points.
Students will collect data, interpret results, construct displays, and develop plans for reducing congestion in specified areas of their schools.

Extension: Students could develop alternate traffic flow plans for their schools in the event of evacuation drills, i.e. fire drills, bomb threats, etc.

Topics Introduced:

Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics Curriculum Framework Components Addressed:
Transportation Operations
Logistics Planning and Management Services
Transportation Systems/ Infrastructure Planning, Management and Regulation
Health, Safety and Environmental Management
Suggested Grade Levels:
6th Grade
7th Grade
8th Grade
9th Grade
10th Grade
11th Grade

Standards Taught:
8.4.6 Math 2006
8.2.2 Math 2006
8.3.1 Math 2006
8.5.1 Math 2006
8.6.3 Math 2006

Lesson Information
Learning Expectations:

- Students will work in teams.
- Students will coordinate with other teachers to exit the classrooms early enough to be on site in time to monitor the halls.
- Students will compute the space occupied by an average student who is standing still, who is walking, and who has additional baggage such as an instrument case. Neb. Math Standard 8.3.1
- Students will count the number of pedestrians who negotiate a designated area in the hallway. Neb. Math Standard 8.2.2
- Students will compute the average number of pedestrians who navigate through their designated areas within a set time frame. Neb. Math Standard 8.2.2
- Students will graph their findings. Neb. Math Standard 8.5.1
- Students will interpret their findings and develop conclusions and plans of action. Neb. Math Standard 8.6.3
- Students will present their plans of action to the class and, possibly, to the Principal/Staff for consideration. Neb. Math Standard 8.4.6

Plan Of Action:

Students will:
- Estimate the optimal traffic flow rate through specific locations within the halls of your school.
- Identify bottlenecks/choke points where traffic becomes congested.
- Estimate traffic flow rates through choke points.
- Compute the actual traffic flow rate at specific locations by counting the pedestrians during transition times.
- Compute the actual traffic flow rate at choke-points.
- Design a plan for optimizing traffic flow that would reduce congestion and decrease tardiness.

Data Set Used:

Data will collected from the observed pedestrian traffic in a school hallway.

Materials Needed:

- Paper & pencil/pen
- Measuring tape/yard stick
- Stop watch
- Time out of class to set up and prepare to observe transition times
- Hand-held counters (optional)
- Digital camera/recorder (optional)

Preparation Period:

45 minutes

Implementation Period:

3-4 days

Science, Math, Engineering and / or Technology Implications:

- Can students generate an algebraic equation for computing the average rate of traffic flow?
- What implications can students identify for safety factors—fire drills, tornado drills, Code Red procedures, etc?
- Can students recognize and articulate reasons for setting and following ‘Rules of the Road’? (i.e.: such things as walking on the right side of the stairs, no running in hallways, etc.)
- Can students connect objectives learned in this lesson with automobile traffic rules? crowd control issues? etc?

Unexpected Results:

This lesson was originally designed around obstacles created during a three year remodeling/reconstruction project. Now that the project is complete, it was originally thought that much of the previous congestion would be alleviated. This has not proved to be true during all transition times.

Certain transition times, especially around lunch schedules, create temporarily congested areas that act as choke points/constriction areas. This has allowed for extension of this lesson beyond the construction project.

During the construction period it was assumed that the constricted areas and detours were partially or wholly responsible for many of the tardies by students transitioning from one part of the building to another. The students proved that there was never enough congestion to prevent students from arriving on time.

Students were observed to be repectful, courteous, and accommodating in the congested areas. No one was observed to have been under a 'Road-rage' atmosphere.

Considerations for Diversity in Education:

What accommodations are made for students using:
a. wheelchairs?
b. crutches?
c. the elevator at the far end of the building?
d. ankle/foot casts/boots/braces?
e. walkers?

What considerations need to be made for special needs students?
For special education students?

Lesson Files

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