Before the holidays, a list-serv member made a post in search of lesson plans related to architecture. Specifically, she was interested if anyone could point her to activities that incorporated scale, similarity, or proportions and were appropriate for grades 7 and 8. What began as a casual search during my lunch break led to an hour or more of browsing and discovering what others have put together on the topic.
Full disclosure: I’m an engineer (not an architect), but I often work closely with architects, and there is a great deal of overlap between the types of problems we encounter and the critical thinking skills we use everyday in our jobs. In an effort to be helpful, but not strain myself too hard, I decided to first simply Google (used as a verb) “architecture grade school lessons” and see what it returned. Links to the NEA’s website and a STEM group in Idaho initially caught my eye, but I then remembered that Wisconsin is home to a few local AIA chapters. The AIA (The American Institute of Architects) is a non-profit professional organization that offers its nearly 93,000 members help with education, licensing, networking, professional development, ethics training, and so on. It didn’t take long before I discovered the AIA’s K-12 Initiatives. In addition to student scholarships and grant support for local chapters, there were two topics that captured my attention -- “The Scan” and “The Connectory.”
The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion K–12 Architecture and Design Education Scan (a.k.a. The Scan) was a national survey the AIA conducted in 2015 to see what opportunities were available for K-12 students interested in architecture. The study tried to identify best-practices, find potential gaps in regions or programs being offered, and then create a directory for teachers, administrators, and parents to connect with the programs. The AIA assessment looked at who was offering the programs, which grade levels participated, and if programs were held during or after school. The study was completed in August 2017 and included 50 U.S. cities and 700 members (none of them in Wisconsin, unfortunately). The final paper and its results are available on the AIA’s website.
The Connectory is a free, searchable, online database of STEM programs and organizations. It began in late 2009 when Time Warner Cable announced the “Connect a Million Minds” initiative. According to their website, the site began as two separate resources -- a directory for The Coalition for Science After School and a directory aimed at parents called Time Warner Cable's Connectory. In 2015, the databases merged with a third group, the National Girls Collaborative. The Connectory is now managed by the National Girls Collaborative in collaboration with:
The site allows its members to create a listing for their group and promote their activities, workshops, and community events. There’s also the ability for volunteers to sign up and find opportunities in their surrounding area.
As part of this adventure, I also reached out to local AIA chapters in Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Madison, to inquire about any programs or events they might offer or be planning to offer in the future. I haven’t heard back yet, but I assume the holidays might have had something to do with that. If and when I hear back, I’ll be sure to share it with the group. Keep an eye on the list-serv for any updates, and thanks for reading. Additional resources and links are available below.
Business & STEM Representative, WATG