This is the sixth consecutive year Propel team member Sam Sudy has been volunteering for the Architecture Foundation of Oregon program Architects in Schools. Not only has Sam found that Architects in Schools is extremely rewarding for the kids, that it helps children discover the world of architecture and creative problem solving in fun and exciting ways, but it is also a great break from the office and a chance to be inspired by the creativity in the children she teaches. Even if it can be hectic at times trying to keep everyone focused on the task at hand, and juggling work commitments while being out of the office, Architects In Schools is worth the effort as it lays the foundation for future generations of architects and designers. As a community-focused architecture firm, it is opportunities like this that we are passionate about, as ways to show the value that architects can provide to our built environment and the communities that live in it.
It seems that every time Sam enters the classroom, work and life stresses slip away and she is completely focused on making sure the kids are having fun while learning something new about the power of design. It is one of the most rewarding volunteer experiences and ultimately is what keeps Sam coming back year after year.
This year, she teamed up with a friend and colleague Rachel Zanetti and two 3rd grade teachers from Marysville Elementary School, and began using lessons from previous years that they knew where crowd-pleasers (marshmallow geodesic domes, mask building exercise with the students taking on different roles between client, designer, constructor).
The final culminating project, however, was a first this year. The teachers asked Sam and Rachel to aide in an engineering project in which the kids teamed up to build popsicle stick replicas of some of Portland's famous bridges. With hot glue and paper templates, the kids tackled the bridge building rather well - their work was super impressive!
On the final day, the kids got to put their bridges to the test by hanging a plastic bucket off of a portion of their bridge and slowly filling it with heavy textbooks to see how much weight their structure could support. At the beginning of this lesson, the teachers were very clear in directing the children to encourage one another, instead of verbally instigate competition. "If a bridge can hold only the bucket, that's okay."
Much to Sam's surprise, the bridges held more than just the bucket...