N.H. 4th graders Learning by Design

There are 441 architects-in-training in New Hampshire’s 4th-grade classrooms, thanks to a program initiated by the New Hampshire Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

The Learning By Design Program in New Hampshire is an introductory architectural design program designed to integrate with the state’s 4th-grade curriculum by the New Hampshire Chapter of the AIA, which partnered with Polly Carpenter, an architectural and Learning By Design educator, in developing the program.

Carpenter, who has worked for several years on Learning By Design programs in New York City and in Boston, conducted a four-hour “How to Teach” workshop for the 33 architects in the state volunteering to teach this course.

The AIANH Learning By Design program focuses on three key areas of development:

• An understanding and knowledge of the important civic buildings in the state capital. All 4th-grade students in participating schools took a visit to the State House. Images of this building were used to introduce architectural vocabulary such as dome, lantern, pediment and entablature.

• An understanding of the three-dimensional relationships in buildings and the built environment. Architectural scales were given to the students, and they were taught how to measure and draw an object to scale. Students then were asked to build an actual model to scale of a building they designed.

• Introduction of the concept of energy efficiency and its application in buildings.

Some 20 participating 4th-grade classes were involved in the program during October and November 2004. Thirty three architects volunteered for a combined total of 5,900 hours to teach the program to 441 students in the eight participating schools.

After the civic buildings and energy efficiency concepts were introduced, the children were challenged to design and build their own clubhouse. This entailed writing a program, drawing a plan, and building a model to scale of their clubhouse.

The clubhouse designs were very diverse. In Center Barnstead Elementary teacher Linda Croteau’s class, the students designed skateboard clubhouses with curved roofs, equestrian clubhouses with tack rooms, sport clubhouses with football fields and fashion clubhouses with courtyards. The students were all able to site their clubhouse on an imaginary site and describe their project to the class.

AIANH’s goal in creating the Learning By Design program is to teach our children about the design of our built environment. As we continue to succeed in providing this program to the schools, we will also succeed in nurturing and guiding our children to be the next generation of architects, leaders and citizens of New Hampshire.

Seventeen organizations volunteered to teach the 20 classes. The organizations were Bruce Ronayne Hamilton Architects, Sheerr McCrystal Palson Architecture, C.N. Carley, Misiasick-Turpin, PLLC, Jordan & Barker Architects, Banwell Architects, Lavallee/Brensinger, P.A., JSA Inc., The Stahlman Group, UK Architects, Appletree Architects, Christopher P. Williams Architects, The Preservation Partnership, Dennis B. Mires, The Architects, PA, Tony Fallon Architecture, the University of New Hampshire and Daniel Bartlett, AIA.

For more information, visit aianh.org.

Leslie Thomas is an architect with the Manchester architectural firm of Lavallee/Brensinger Professional Association.

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