Timmy Robison assembles a tire swing.Architecture project brings professional into classroom posted on 03/01/2017
David Hernandez, a fifth grader at Welches Elementary
School, and his group took to the internet to come up with ideas for their
architecture project, which entailed designing playground equipment and
creating a model of it. The group decided on a boat, featuring slides, a
tunnel, bouncy chairs, a climbing wall, barrels, a steering wheel and more.
“I’ve just seen boats with slides and rock climbing walls on
the side, but some stuff we have now I’ve never seen,” said Hernandez, 10.
The project is part of the Architecture Foundation of
Oregon’s Architects in Schools program, pairing architects and design
professionals with classroom teachers. For the project at Welches, students in
fifth and third grade classes were put together in small groups, also offering the
opportunity for different age groups to interact.
Third grader Adam Pintado, 9, was in the same group with
Hernandez, and noted it was a benefit to work with a more advanced student.
“The older kids are smarter, so they’ll know what to do,”
Hernandez also found benefits in working with some younger
“Their imagination has other things and other ideas,” he
said. “They come up with good ideas.”
The group including fifth grader Jeb Payne and third grader
Bradley Nelson came up with some ideas that would be welcome in most living
rooms, not just on the playground. Their tree house includes a flat screen TV,
soundproofing, a kitchen, a couch and candy, in addition to more traditional
features such as a rock climbing wall, a slide and “a bouncy thing.”
“We all had different ideas,” said Payne, 10. “We all wanted
something different so it was hard to figure out what we could do.”
After students came up with their designs, approval was
needed from Mechanical Engineer Roger Arnold, Jr. from the Portland engineering
firm Glumac, including an official stamp, before construction of the model
“It’s actually kind of good because we get this awesome
stamp,” said Nelson, 8.
Fifth grader Olivia Daniels noted her group researched
playground ideas in books, and landed on including a tire swing in order to
have it last longer in the mountain weather. She added that the group did end
up coming to the same conclusion, despite the potential for disagreement.
“Sometimes, if someone else has an idea, things can get
squiggly, like messed up, where someone doesn’t like something,” said Daniels,
10. “The funny thing is, when we were doing it, we all wanted to do a tire
swing and a bench swing.”
Ellie Garmon, a third grader who worked with Daniels, added
that the tire swing would be a good change from the others at the school’s
“We already have a ton of swings,” said Garmon, 8.
Fifth grade teacher Kalee Adams noted that the hands-on
project offers an introduction to a career that uses a variety of skills,
including math, art and science. She added that students from both grades were
excited to work on the project and that the lessons they learned were evident
elsewhere in their studies.
“I've noticed students use vocabulary learned from Roger, or
this program, while independently reading, or researching for their expository
essays,” Adams wrote in an email. “The connections across our curriculum have
started to present itself. It's truly exciting to witness as a teacher.”
Arnold said that when he first presented to the students, he
connected his career in engineering to playing with Lego blocks as a child.
He’s completed a myriad of projects, including an airport in Las Vegas, Nev.
and a movie theater outside Washington, D.C., and connected his work now to
what inspired him in his youth.
“The concept being, if you can build it in Legos, you can
build it in real life,” Arnold said. “Legos are great because you can make your
imagination wander and build whatever you want out of it.”
This is Arnold’s first endeavor with the Architects in
Schools program, which he sees as a good way to introduce kids to the field at
an early age, particularly those groups that are currently underrepresented.
“There’s not enough women or minorities in engineering,” he
said. “This is the opportunity to affect that change, when kids are young and
passionate about something new, that there are role models out there that can
get them to an engineering career.”
March 17 update: a special reception presenting the design projects will be held from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, at the Hoodland Library, 24525 Welches Road, and is open to the general public. The projects will be on display at the library from Wednesday, March 22 through Monday, April 3.
By Garth Guibord/MT