Teaching children about architecture is a great way to combine a bit of art and engineering. At Schiesher School , Patrica Hurt’s math class is feeling very creative.
These fifth-graders have had a burst of inspiration after studying Frank Lloyd Wright. They are building replicas of the houses they’ve designed out of large graph and construction paper. This is a great way to teach STEM concepts.
The class is participating in the “Build it Wright” program, directed by the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust. Hurt applied for a grant for the program to the Lisle Education Foundation, which used a financial gift from D.L. Bowman Ltd., a foundation business partner.
“This is a fantastic experience for our students,” Hurt said. “We will have a reception for their parents on Dec. 10 to showcase their final projects.”
The 10-week program integrates architecture and design with lessons on building materials and functions. Students work individually to design their own unique floor plan and construct a 3-D model to scale.
“The goal is to enable students to discuss architectural detail and design, observe and evaluate their built environment, and design and build models,” said Brook Hutchinson, education and program assistant of the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust. “Throughout this project, the work of Frank Lloyd Wright is used as reference and inspiration in solving design problems.”
The trust oversees four schools each semester in the model-making program and offers roughly 50 single session programs at schools and libraries. The program incorporates math, reading, language arts, design and architecture, Hutchinson said.
Wright was a creative 20th century architect known for his unique style featuring uncluttered, strong horizontal lines. His use of natural materials anchored each design to its location and led way to Wright’s distinctive Prairie Style.
Each of the 23 students in Hurt’s class was given a packet to study different kinds of roofs, windows and exterior wall treatments. The group walked around the neighborhood and sketched different possibilities they might use in their designs.
On a field trip to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House on the campus of the University of Chicago in Hyde Park, the focus was on Wright’s singular architecture.
James Haros, 10, thought the Robie House had a “really cool design.” A.J. Takahashi, 11, found the house’s indirect lighting interesting and effective.
How Wright used the space within the house caught the attention of Amanda Duban, 10. She liked the use of low and then high ceilings to give the feeling of going into a spacious area.
Based on her visit to the Robie House, Callie Walsh, 11, hid her design’s front door as Wright often did, and used a cantilever roof line over the door to protect visitors from the elements. Her open floor plan included two levels and a library.