Environmental Charter School in Regent Square lets students design classroom
After students in Michelle King and Nick Kaczmarek's seventh-grade classes designed their ideal classroom, teachers overheard one girl complain the work wouldn't change anything at Environmental Charter School in Regent Square.
“I was like, ‘I will not be a liar to these kids,'” King said. “It's important for us to have a relationship of trust.”
King and Kaczmarek brought in nine undergraduate design students from Carnegie Mellon University's School of Architecture to help rebuild the classroom according to the students' ideas.
They met weekly to discuss prototypes and how to use a $1,000 budget, then presented the revamped classroom on Dec. 8.
“Our students basically became their clients,” said Kaczmarek, who teaches a cultural literacy class with King. “Now, it's a brighter room, a more vibrant room — truly a testament to all the work these students put in.”
Instead of individual desks that must be dragged across the floor and rearranged into groups, students got four large tables with lockable wheels and white board surfaces for taking notes.
True to the school's environmental mission, the 60 children who worked on the project disassembled the classroom's 24 desks and rebuilt them into chairs with arms and padded seats.
They reused the desks' plastic cubbies as storage shelves.
“Even outside the classroom, there was a buzz,” said Mick McNutt, adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon and a project architect at Garfield-based EDGE Studio. “Students were running up to their family members, to students who weren't in the class, to say, ‘Look at what we did.'”
The project gave the Carnegie Mellon students an opportunity to do an interior design that they could build in a workshop and then see in use rather than modeling a building, McNutt said.
By working with each other and the architecture students, the seventh-graders practiced problem solving and demonstrated ways to apply each student's expertise, King said.
They used YouTube tutorials and consulted peers to learn how to illustrate rough designs in Google's SketchUp 3-D modeling program.
“They feel empowered because they'd started in the first month of school, trying to build a culture of learning,” King said. “Now, they can really see themselves in this classroom.”
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add Matthew Santoni to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pitcairn police department to carry Narcan for heroin overdoses
- Wilson Center event rentals thwarted by cooling system repairs
- Scientists hope tiny robotic bee’s big dreams take flight
- Pittsburgh bishop throws cold water on ALS group, which uses embryonic stem cells
- 6 arrested after brief SWAT standoff in Fineview
- Allegheny County police balk at plan for rangers to patrol parks
- Pittsburgh city vehicle repair delays elicit gripes about Cincinnati company
- Law targeting sexual violence prompts campuses to review, publish policies
- Suit over too-tall Pittsburgh Parking Authority meters nearly settled
- Inbound Liberty Tunnel will reopen for morning rush
- Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra makes ‘great strides’ financially, audit shows