Watch the demolition (unbuilding) of the Grace and Pearman Bridges
(old Cooper River Bridges)
The Bridge Blog A dialog about our new bridge and these web pages
Schools and universities are all about learning - and learning is mostlly
brain training. Learning is expedited by repetition and forgetting
is expedited by infrequent use of learned skills or information.
Tracking the building of the Ravenel Bridge and now tracking the
demolition of the Grace and Pearman Bridges bring
many questions to me and help me better understand the role Google
and the Internet play in
just-in-time learning. I enjoy chasing my curiosity and
want to identify ways to encourage younger learners to also enjoy curiosity
chasing and learning.
Many young learners do not understand the importance of repetition. More
important, while experienced learners understand the learning process
they often do not realize the destructive effects of the forgetting
process. Over the course of the
bridge project, I have access to only a few experts.
Rather than a liability, this has become an asset and pushed me to improve
my search skills with Google. Soon, I realized that answers
to questions encountered during my photo adventures were often
only a Google-search away. Gene Stead,
my first boss and I put these ideas together in a small essay:
Restoring the Joy in Learning).
Google + Internet have become dependable extensions of my memory.
Insights I gain from you and this project will find their way into the
learning centers in our schools and universities.
I suppose I always thought that demolition was just another destructive
process - that of removing components until all the structure was reduced
to a pile of rubble. Was I ever wrong. Watching and talking with the
Testa and Jay Cashman guys, I have found that there is skill, precision and
a bit of art in their work. Skill to work the giant grapples, jackhammers
and shears. Precision in removing segments of the road, cleaning the
underlying I-beam surfaces (on the Grace and Pearman bridges) or cutting
the rebar that formed the concrete supporting structures along the
Grace and Pearman approaches and exits and art - somehow instinctively knowing
what and where to apply their what I call, surgical tools.
Just as I learned of the precision (fractions of an inch) required to
join the edge girders of the new Ravenel Bridge, I have learned from the
Cashman and Testa workers that unbuilding requires similar precision. I
was trained as an electrical engineer - where precision was part of the
discipline. I suppose I was quite guilty of looking at my civil
engineering colleagues as working with precision that was less demanding and
"close enough for highway work". Was I ever wrong! I have totally
reversed my understanding of demolition over the short month
since the demolition of the Grace and Pearman bridges and approaches
started. Another demonstration that even at my age (64 next week) -
continued learning is possible and even necessary.