Teaching middle school students design with 3D technology is allowing students to become 3D modeling interior designers, and teachers are customers for home renovation.
At Washington Middle School in Long Beach, technology teacher James Laub jokes about the arrangement. “We call them clients,” he said.
Laub treats the class like a design business to give students experience, however there is no money exchanged. Teachers tell students what they want for their living areas, and students get creative with the finished product. Sometimes there are prizes from the “clients” such as gift cards and T-shirts for the top three designs by students.
Most of the children are socioeconomically disadvantaged, in a low income high crime area north of downtown Long Beach.
“Children deal with a lot and sometimes the safest part of their day is here at school,” said Laub, who’s been teaching in the neighborhood for 25 years. “They have a lot of issues outside and for them to be able to pay attention and focus and do this, despite all the problems they might be having at home … it tells me a lot, that they want to learn this stuff.”
The software the students use is free to K-12 students, and the plug in for extra features was donated by the company Render Plus.
“It’s really a philosophy about learning and opportunity, it’s so much bigger than what it sounds like,” said Principal Megan Traver. “It’s really neat to have something this engaging and this supportive of our students’ learning. It just gets them excited to come to school.”