The architecture workshop at Rowan Preparatory School was booked through United Learning Enrichment Programme as an extra-curricular activity to enhance pupils’ existing studies in Engineering and Technology.
The workshop was targeted at the girls in Years 3 and 4 and allowed them to gain a greater understanding of structures.
The girls were challenged to think about different shapes that are used in architecture and to evaluate the 2D structures against a criterion of strength and stability. Guest speaker, Martin, drew the children in by allowing them to test different structures for themselves; the girls worked in small groups to make various shapes for themselves, as well as following his guidelines. Martin was very good at applying the girls’ understanding of maths and English to their structures and made many cross-curricular links. It was clear to see that the girls had not thought of combining willow with elastic bands before and they had great fun as they experimented with different methods of combining the two materials.
Once the girls had discovered that a triangle shape would provide the strongest structure, they were challenged to see how they could use this knowledge to create a shelter in one of the following environments: Artic, Sahara Desert and Amazon Rainforest. Martin was very good at making connections to other aspects of the curriculum, as well as explaining why strong structures would be needed in these areas. It was pleasing to see that the children were seeing the relevance of their studies in different subjects and applying their skills to this session.
As the session progressed, the girls were divided into small groups and given their brief; they were told to design a structure that would withstand the extreme weather conditions in their chosen environment and provide a big enough ‘home’ to house all of their team comfortably. Each group was given a large sample of willow sticks of different lengths and elastic bands and were left to discuss in their clusters how they were going to create a suitable abode.
It was interesting to watch how the groups interacted in this situation. Some girls became organisers and others followers. Some girls listened really well and others had differing views (and made their opinions known!). Everyone had a chance to demonstrate where their strengths lay.
Over the given time frame, all groups produced large sturdy structures. Some groups were very good at evaluating and analysing their designs as they went along and were able to change their models for the better. Others needed some guidance to help them make adjustments but were able to modify their structures too. The hall was a hub of enthusiasm and laughter.
At the end of the sessions, Martin went around each of the structures testing their stability causing much hilarity amongst the girls! Luckily most of the structures were very strong and could withstand his vigorous shaking. This proved to be a successful session for the girls and they gained an awful lot from this experience, above and beyond the expected academic experiences.