Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ask the Experts: Why is a flag on the crane?

One day the kids in Ms. Meadows' third grade class were talking about the construction across the street. They wondered about the flag way, way on top of one of the cranes (look carefully and you can see it!). Yes, the boom--the long arm of the crane--is an excellent flagpole. But that wasn't really an explanation. Kids at the Perkins are starting to learn that if they ask questions, they can get answers. It was time to...


Several kids wrote letters to ask the question, here is Renny's:

Once again, our expert was John O'Toole, Senior Project Manager for Suffolk Construction. "First of all," he said, "the flag is a proud sign of our heritage and our country. All the workers and unions on the job are glad to work with it on site."
Then he went on to explain another reason. "It lets us know which way the wind is blowing." Why do workers care about that? Sometimes the crane's job is to operate the pile driver, said Mr. O'Toole. At our site it is acting like a big hammer, driving 100-foot long cement pile into the ground. As you can imagine that heavy cement hits the ground with a lot of force. And each time it does, the oil greasing the crane flies off--almost like the water droplets coming off a wet, shaking dog.

If you were a worker, wouldn't you want to know which way the wind was blowing so you'd know which way that oil was going to fly? Otherwise, you'd get pretty greasy before long!

ps. Now you may be thinking: What's a pile? It's a column that can be made of cement and steel, wood, or steel. What's it for? If you're curious, look it up or wait for a future post. Or, look it up and wait for a future post!