Architects must consider much more than bricks and glass when designing a school. That’s what seventh- and eighth-graders in Mady Wohl’s pre-engineering class at iTech Preparatory Middle School learned last week as they embarked on an international competition to design a school of the future.
Casey Wyckoff, president of LSW Architects, stood at the front of Wohl’s classroom leading students through a discussion of design considerations, from site analysis to building systems to security.
Wyckoff, whose firm has designed several Clark County schools, will volunteer many hours over the next few months teaching basic architectural principals as the students prepare to design a school of the future.
“Because they’re in middle school, they’re young enough to dare to dream,” said Barbara Worth, spokeswoman for the Council of Educational Facility Planners International, the organization that sponsors the annual competition.
Last year, more than 3,000 students competed in the School of the Future Design Competition. Last year’s top three teams were from the United Kingdom, Canada and Dayton, Ohio.
The competition is rigorous and will take months to complete. First, students will sketch their designs on paper. Next, they’ll design 3-D computer models. Finally, students will build 3-D models. Each team also will create a five-minute video documenting their planning process, Worth said.
“It’s a project-based learning experience based on a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum,” Worth said. “It’s multidisciplinary and also covers language, expression through the arts and tremendous leadership skills.”
Students form a planning team and “everyone has a role in designing,” Worth said. “They work just like a collaborative team designing a school,” she said.
Last year, McLoughlin Middle School was the only school in Clark County that competed. This year, iTech Preparatory Middle School has 30 teams entering the competition.
Each school will choose four students from their team to present at the final competition to a jury of 22 adults: architects, facility planners, school district superintendents and teachers next fall at the organization’s national conference in Portland. The winners receive small cash prizes.