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East Span Inspires Kid Creations

"My Bay Bridge" on View at MTC

"My Bay Bridge" is on view on the third floor of the MetroCenter. Photos: Peter Beeler

The kids listen closely as Victor Gauthier teaches them about the Bay Bridge's self-anchored suspension span — the largest of its kind in the world.



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December 13, 2013

A dozen or so three- and four-year-olds stretched out their arms and swayed back and forth. None of them were alive when the Loma Prieta earthquake rattled the Bay Area in 1989, but you wouldn’t know it from their spot-on impressions of the quaking and shaking Bay Bridge.

The reenactment was part of a field trip to MTC today by the Hummingbird Class at Oakland’s Growing Light Montessori school to view an installation of their bridge-themed paintings. The colorful canvases depict a kid’s-eye view of the new Bay Bridge East Span, which was designed to replace the portion of the bridge that was damaged in the 1989 quake and opened this past Labor Day, 2013.

The children made the paintings earlier this fall when MTC Principal Engineer Peter Lee, father to Growing Light student Matthew, visited the class and taught them all about earthquake safety and engineering. He showed them a timelapse video of the East Span’s construction, which inspired the students to later make their own renditions out of painter’s tape and acrylic paint.

At today’s event, the preschoolers got a chance to revisit their artwork and enjoy a hands-on presentation by MTC’s Victor Gauthier and Margena Wade, who both work in public outreach for the Bay Bridge. After viewing slides of the old and new bridges via old-fashioned viewfinders, the preschoolers tried their hands at building three-dimensional models of the new span out of wooden blocks.

The Hummingbird class’ unit on the Bay Bridge has clearly left an impression on the young artists: when Wade asked them what they want to be when they grow up, nearly all said “engineer” — except for the two aspiring “kitty cats.”

“My Bay Bridge” is on view on the third floor of the MetroCenter from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. See a complete description of art exhibits at MTC here and a list of bridge-related shows around the Bay Area here.

Natalie Orenstein