Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mindstorm Mechanics Research Update

Nancy Nisselbaum has arranged for the Mindstorm Mechanics to interview the crossing guard, Ellen, at PS144. Here is an update from the interview:

You kids did awesome the other day. You were poised and self-confident. You listened to what Ellen had to say. I was really impressed with you!

So these are the answers to the question you asked. Also remember that we don’t have a meeting on Saturday, but we will on November 7. I expect a one-minute presentation from each of you on a solution to the traffic problem. Following the Q&A below are the notes from our last meeting and some of the ideas you came up with. Feel free to be as imaginative as possible. If you don’t like any of the solutions that you listed last week, make up a new one. Also, if there is someone in your group who is not on this email list, please forward it on

1. Did she ever save anyone ?

Yes, she pulled a kindergartner out of the way. The girl had listened when her mom said go, but you should always wait to hear Ellen say okay, because Ellen has her eyes on all the cars.

2. Did anyone ever get injured in an accident?

Not at her corner, but on the corner by Loubet Street, where there isn’t a stop sign. A flashing red light means the same as a stop sign. You must come to a full stop and look before proceeding. Flashing yellow means slow down and proceed with caution. A green light means go.

3. Has she seen drunk drivers?

Yes, but not around school.

4. How many cars would she estimate illegally park?

Every day. Too many too count. But lately the police have been out and giving tickets.

5. What do you think are the biggest traffic problems?

When parents go through the stop signs. When parents don’t pay attention to Ellen and start honking at her to hurry up. Her priority is getting the children across the street safely. Parents who double park block the buses from going through, which creates more traffic jams. Parents park in the no parking or no standing zones. No parking means you can’t park and leave your car. You can pull up to quickly drop someone off. No standing means you can’t even pull up. The lane must stay clear. Children should always cross at the corner and never try to cross in the middle of the street between cars. Driver often won’t see you if you dart out from behind a parked car.

6. What improvements can be made?

Get a message to the parents to obey the traffic signs. Not to park or stand where it says you shouldn’t, not to double park and block the traffic lanes. To watch the traffic signs and obey the, To watch out for children crossing. Add more volunteers to take down license plate numbers of people who park illegally. These numbers can be given to the police who can issue summons.

7. Has anyone ever gone through the stop sign?

Yes many times when they get too impatient to wait for Ellen. Sometimes when it’s raining or snowing and they can’t control the car. Or they’re on their cell phones and not paying attention and drive right through.

8. Does she have the right to fine people?

No, but she can take down license plate numbers and give them to the police.

9. How long has she worked there and has she seen traffic increase?

She been there 25 and noticed that as the size of the school population increases, so does the traffic around the school. It’s a dangerous job simply because drivers don’t pay attention to her. She often ahs to leap out of the way of some impatient driver who doesn’t want to wait for her permission to go.

Notes from 10/24/09

PS 144 and the traffic problems surrounding it as seen by the members of Mindstorm Mechanics.

Too many cars are taking their children to school. People over sleep, are lazy, they like to drive so many times people who live within walking distance still drive their children to school

People are leaving their cars in no parking spots. They park illegally and then bring their children (especially kindergartners) into school and then loiter in the halls watching their kids go in or talking to friends, leaving their cars blocking traffic lanes.

People are double parking and blocking traffic.

People park where the buses are supposed to be so the buses can’t get to where they need to be and block the road.

Solutions generated by members of Mindstorm Mechanics

  • Build a parking lot or circular drop-off
  • Make streets wider and create a drop off lane
  • Fine people who park on the sidewalk or park illegally
  • Have lunch aides meet the cars to bring in the little kids
  • Stagger the drop off times, having the kindergartners coming in either a little early or a little late
  • Build a crane with a super magnet to lift and take away the illegally parked cars.
  • Build a floor on top of the school and hollow out the first floor so that cars can drive directly into the school to drop off kids
  • Dig under the school and put a parking lot there
  • Make more entrances for children to go in
  • Get more 6th grade volunteers to meet the cars and bring children in
  • Build a ramp up to the roof for cars to drive up to for drop off

These are the ideas you have to work with. You need to come to the next meeting with a presentation that fleshes out one of these ideas. You need to be ab;e to strand up and talk to me, Lisa, and your fellow members and say what your idea is, how it will work, and how it will solve the problem.

Last of all,

Have fun. This is your challenge, make the most of it and have fun with it.

(Again, Thanks for the detailed update from Nancy Nisselbaum, our new assistant research Coach)

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