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Going for a green light; Bridgeport students analyze new traffic plan

By Erika Pedroza | Published Wednesday, February 5, 2014

When the community problem solvers class at Bridgeport Middle School embarked on its mission to expedite after-school pick-up procedures, students devised a plan of attack organized by traffic light colors.

Green-light tasks in September, October and November kicked off the project – selecting an issue to address and collecting data to define it.

In December and through most of January, students slowed their extensive logistical efforts and instead focused on actually executing the plan – yellow-light items.

Speeding Along

SPEEDING ALONG – Students in Paula Shepherd’s community problem solvers class at Bridgeport Middle School helped implement a new, split-delay traffic flow plan to expedite after-school pick-up procedures. The class will enter this student-devised project in the Texas Future Problem Solving competition. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Students helped implement the split-delay traffic flow plan Jan. 21 – the first day of the spring semester. That afternoon, students stood outside with signs directing traffic to the appropriate places.

With the changes, sixth- and seventh-graders are picked up on the straightaway in front of the school, dubbed “67 Straight.”

Eighth-grade students, who make up the largest of the three classes at BMS, are picked up on the bus loop in front of the gym, aptly named “Loop 8.”

At the end of the week, the class met to debrief and identify strengths and areas that need improvement.

As far as positives, the suggestions of the class of 14 naturally fell into one of three categories.

Under the communication category, students said they liked the call-out, flier and announcement made at an assembly, which served to remind students of the change.

The effectiveness of these means of communication were measured in the remaining two categories – speed and procedures.

Students said traffic moved much more quickly, and without the eighth grade, 67 Straight cleared out fast.

Furthermore, the class pointed out more and more parents followed the procedures each day.

Students identified three areas that could use some improvement – the call-out, signage and confusion with procedures.

Katelyn Lanfear said not all students received the call-out, and Lane Whitsell suggested the call-out also be done in Spanish.

For signage, students reported the wind knocked down some and others had deteriorated because of cold weather.

“We’ll be getting real, permanent signs so we don’t have to worry about that anymore,” teacher Paula Shepherd said.

Under procedures, students said parents need to pull forward so there aren’t any cars in the street.

“Maybe we could have signs asking people to pull all the way up,” Kyler Holley said.

Another student suggested having their parents model it, while Jadon Maddux said the class could encourage some kids to come out the front doors so that not everybody exits the side door, as is done now.

However, classmate Kirby Russell warned of immediately implementing multiple changes.

“We might not want to start going through all this until we get the system going,” he said, “because then they’ll get really confused if we make all these changes at one time. They’re not used to it. We might want to wait a few more days.”

The class agreed and decided instead to continue with the plan as it is for four weeks total before measuring the data and analyzing it again.

“We’ve talked about the S-curve and how we may have a little downslope before it gets better,” Shepherd reminded the class. “You don’t want to measure it too early, because if you measure it too early you’re not going to have very accurate data.”

The students decided that a few more weeks would allow parents to acclimate to the changes and smooth out the process.

“If you measure it too early, you’re still in the worst, and that just doesn’t look good,” Halle Holbrook said.

“You want to measure at the top,” Maddux added.

Next week is the fourth week of the plan. In the meantime, students plan to continue with red-light tasks, which include recording a public service announcement, explaining the project in a six-page paper and finishing the scrapbook – also aptly divided into green, yellow and red sections.

The paper and scrapbook are due Feb. 12 for consideration in the Texas Future Problem Solving competition.

“We don’t have to have all the measuring completed when the project is turned in,” Shepherd said. “There’s a portion in the paper of ‘what’s to come.’ If the project qualifies for state, then it would be added.

“We hope we’ll be adding that.”

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