TTI Sheds a Light on Traffic Sign Reflectivity
The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) is offering parents and their homebound students a unique and inspiring lesson in the science behind how roadway objects like street signs and lane markings can be seen at night—a property called retroreflectivity.
Aimed at 4th to 6th graders, the at-home lesson Exploring the Science of Retroreflectivity is free on the TTI website and contains easy-to-follow directions. The curriculum was developed to kindle kids’ natural curiosity about science and engineering and designed to fit Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) of engineering design for grades 4 through 6. Specific NGSS and Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) skills are incorporated into each lesson, with enrichment and modifications included for time allowances and informal education opportunities, like working with kids at home.
“This is the same lesson we developed for school classrooms after it was such a hit with students who have visited TTI in person,” says TTI Research Engineer Melisa Finley. “For years, TTI has been conducting this hands-on lesson about the special materials that allow signs to be seen at night by reflecting the light from vehicle headlights. Retroreflectivity is fun to learn, and it’s been great to see the kids be so inspired by something they never really knew about before.”
The webpage has easy to follow instructions and videos showing how to conduct all or part of the lesson, step-by-step. Finley says there’s a good chance the materials needed for the project are already in many homes. If not, they’re available for purchase at stores on-line. For more information on the curriculum TTI created for secondary schools see this 2018 web story.