Architecture Knowhow!

Every year, the Education department at the Skirball partners with teaching artists and a local school on a series of creative and collaborative workshops centered around an exhibition. For the current exhibition, Global Citizen: The Architecture of Moshe Safdie, we created a six-week in-school residency with fourth graders from Annandale Elementary School in Highland Park that focused on design and architecture. Our goal was to encourage the students to engage in problem-solving through a “design-based learning” process that linked to Global Citizen and also incorporated elements of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math). The teaching architects, Justin Rice and Kagan Taylor of the fabrication laboratory and design studio Knowhow Shop, knew just how to excite the students about designing, building, and learning.

Our first step was to figure out what the students already knew about architecture. It turns out they knew quite a bit! Chalkboard circle chart

Next, the students took an architecture tour of the Skirball campus and visited Global Citizen to learn about the center’s architect, Moshe Sadfie.

We were inspired by Sadfie’s Habitat ’67 and by the natural beauty of the Skirball campus.

We were inspired by Sadfie’s Habitat ’67 and by the natural beauty of the Skirball campus.

On another day, they took a walking field trip to the Knowhow Shop, where Justin and Kagan showed them some of the shop’s projects and special tools.

Justin carved a pumpkin on the CNC machine while the students watched. And Manny demonstrated how a laser cutter works.

Justin carved a pumpkin on the CNC machine while the students watched. And Manny, also from the KnowHow Shop demonstrated how a laser cutter works.

After our field trips, we were back at Annandale “nailing down” the design for our project. The students worked in small groups to decide what they wanted to build and what purpose it would serve. The top picks were cubbies, planter boxes, and a seating/stage area. We decided to design a modular unit that would serve all three purposes.

Caption: The students worked in teams to build models and sketch their designs.

The students worked in teams to build models and sketch their designs.

Justin and Kagan brought pre-cut boards of strong, weather-resistant composite wood, all ready to be fitted, glued, hammered, and nailed together by the students. KnowHow_Skirball residency projectBut before the students started building anything, Justin and Kagan gave us a safety demonstration. KnowHow Shop_Skirball residency project

Caption: One of the students’ favorite parts of the project was painting. No surprise!

One of the students’ favorite parts of the project was painting. No surprise!

The students filled the planter boxes with native, drought-tolerant plants with help from Linda, a horticulture expert who leads workshops at the Knowhow Shop. Skirball_KnowHow Shop residency projectAfter six weeks of hard work, the cubby/planter/seat structure was finished! The project was a group effort in the truest sense. Now every time the fourth graders of Annandale Elementary water the plants in the structure, stash a book during recess, or sit on the structure with friends, they will be reminded of the fact that they built something with their own hands, minds, and imagination.

We all felt so proud! Photo by Peter Turman.

We all felt so proud! Photo by Peter Turman.

Thank you notes from the students. One of the students wrote that she plans on using the structure “for sitting down, using it for my stuff, and using it to make our school more beautiful.”

Thank you notes from the students. One of the students wrote that she plans on using the structure “for sitting down, using it for my stuff, and using it to make our school more beautiful.”

 

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Posted in School Outreach and tagged , , .

About Susan Boorujy Larson

Currently the Associate Educator for School Programs where she develops, coordinates, and teaches programs for Pre-K to Grade 4, Sue has held several different positions within the Education Department at the Skirball. Outside of the Skirball, Sue has taught in the classroom, as well as teaching visual, theatre, and movement arts. Outside of work, Sue enjoys being outside. If she’s inside, you’ll catch her cooking, clowning around with her new husband (they literally practice pratfalls and drive around with 18 other people in a tiny car) or reading a fantasy novel. With exception of the group shot of the finished project by Peter Turman, all other photos by Susan Boorujy Larson.

2 comments on “Architecture Knowhow!

  1. Anna Gaiter on said:

    This is awesome!!!! What a great opportunity for these students! I would love information about this program and possibly participate in it next year!!! Thank you for the post!!!!

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