TAF@Saghalie visits SR99 Tunnel, TAF Hosts STEM Activity at Grand Opening

 In Uncategorized

February 6th, 2019

Seattle, WA – Seattle gets ready to say “goodbye” to the old viaduct and “hello” to the new tunnel! Prior to WSDOT’s February 2019 Grand Opening celebration for the public, TAF@Saghalie students toured the SR99 Tunnel Project. Six students toured the new SR 99 Tunnel and discovered what makes this public works marvel work.


Students had the opportunity to preview the double-deck tunnel’s unique features: such as the complex systems using technology to communicate with each other, keeping drivers safe. In a growing area like Seattle, students want to be a part of this growth, and seek out how to contribute and grow their community. At TAF@Saghalie, students learn the skills needed for the future of STEM careers; through opportunities such as this one, they know exactly where they can apply those skills. It seems only fitting that these students be some of the first to step inside the new tunnel to personally witness this landmark achievement, where STEM skills have transformed a grand vision into reality.

This tour opportunity represents the combined efforts of TAF and WSP USA, a global engineering and professional services firm with a local Seattle office (one of WSDOT’s primary consultants on the Alaska Way Viaduct project). Thanks to a growing partnership, TAF@Saghalie students will have an opportunity to apply their project-based learning in the classroom to a large-scale engineering project. In addition, students will gain exposure to what it is like to work in STEM fields, see how project teams approach project delivery, and pioneer models of how students and professionals can work together to break down barriers to access and opportunity in the STEM arena.

This tunnel tour is just an initial piece of formulating a TAF to WSP partnership, and as a next step – WSP engineers will visit TAF@Saghalie to connect with students in their classrooms, work with instructors to launch a tunnel-topic design challenge, and share stories of the various pathways they took to arrive in their chosen profession.   

“Our students had an opportunity to learn firsthand, from the tunnel engineer, all the critical elements involved in building a tunnel of this magnitude.” said Trish Millines-Dziko, Co-Founder and Executive Director at TAF, “We’re very thankful for our partnership with WSP and their willingness to continue to engage our students by giving them extended learning opportunities.”

At the celebration opening of the tunnel on February 2nd, TAF and WSP hosted STEM experiences at Seattle Center for attendees.

WSP hosted a driving simulation, taking people on driving adventures through places such as San Francisco and Dubai. Meanwhile, TAF hosted a structure building activity where kids were encouraged to build their strongest tower to withstand the most weight using only popsicle sticks and hot glue. The activity was reflective of what TAF@Saghalie students have done before in their classrooms. Throughout the day, some collapsed at 50lbs, 80lbs, and one person hit a record 100lbs!

We helped attendees navigate through the process, from selecting a design to assembling and reinforcing their tower. Watch the video to see one of the towers put to the test!

TAF at SR99 Grand Opening

Federal Way Public Schools (FWPS) is committed to giving all scholars experiences in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), as indicated in FWPS Strategic Plan Goal 5. TAF’s collaboration with FWPS dates from 2008, when the organization teamed up with a public school to launch TAF Academy – an innovative school offering STEM programming to students in grades 6-12. In 2017, TAF@Saghalie combined the former TAF Academy and Saghalie Middle School into a new, innovative, and progressive sixth through twelfth-grade STEM-focused neighborhood school, serving grades 6–12, co-managed by Federal Way Public Schools and Technology Access Foundation (TAF).

“The STEM Career field offers many opportunities for our scholars,” said FWPS Superintendent Dr. Tammy Campbell. “This event provides real-life context and inspiration for our students to see real-world application of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in the Puget Sound region.”

As families strolled along the celebration at Seattle Center, children were encouraged to attempt our Building Structure Challenge

For six consecutive years, TAF Academy was recognized as a School of Distinction for its commitment to improving student outcomes. In its first year as TAF@Saghalie, the school was recognized for a seventh consecutive year, receiving this distinction more than any other school in the Puget Sound Region. TAF@Saghalie aims to increase scholar achievement and post-secondary preparedness using the award-winning STEMbyTAF model and provides a rigorous and relevant learning environment rooted in project-based learning practices for today’s college and career-bound student. TAF@Saghalie students also gain valuable experience through innovation challenges, job shadowing, professional mentoring programs, and field trips.

To donate towards TAF’s mission go here.

To volunteer for opportunities such as this one click here.

To learn more about WSP click here.

For media inquiries contact development@techaccess.org 

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment


Invest today in one student, and the infinite futures they will create.

Support a student today. Your monthly gift will transform classrooms into spaces where the only limit on student learning is their own imagination and curiosity.