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Home > Clerc Center > KDES Students Try Their Hands at Architecture

KDES Students Try Their Hands at Architecture

Image: A KDES student with an architect

Image: A KDES student with red model building in a classroom

As architects say, "Form follows function," or in the case of a group of Kendall Demonstration Elementary School (KDES) students, applying the principles of math can help create a functional building! Last fall, KDES sixth, seventh, and eighth grade math teachers invited Chris Hoffmann, a deaf architect with the Virginia commercial architectural firm of Wisnewski Blair & Associates, to visit with their students in order to inspire them as they began work on their own building projects. (Read about Hoffman’s first visit to KDES.)

At the end of the semester, the students invited Hoffmann back to show him their models. "When I first saw students' finished works, I was pleased to see that students actually demonstrated the ability to understand basic mathematic concepts and put them into practice," said Hoffman. "Constructing a 3-D model from blueprints requires one to understand basic mathematic concepts. The students' works reflect their abilities to apply math skills such as perimeter and areas to various structures and spaces. I'm very impressed with how they compiled all blueprints, plans, and expense records to be stored in a binder."

Each of the students produced a building over the course of the semester. Through the use of project-based learning, the students combined reading, writing, and math skills with teamwork, problem solving, research, time management, and information gathering. This approach encourages independent thinking, with the student taking the lead while the teachers provide guidance and encouragement on the side.

"These kinds of lessons engage students' minds and imaginations to explore how real-world buildings and cities are designed and built. Everyone experiences architecture and interacts with it daily," said Hoffman. "This kind of integrated learning, which prompts visual thinking, is of the essence to enhance students' learning. I can speak from my own experience that building an architectural model certainly helps me to communicate design ideas to people. What a great learning activity that bridges them to the world of architecture!"

Congratulations to our student architects on a job well done!