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Learning “what architecture really means” with help from Pixelbook

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Editor’s Note: This post comes from Cynthia Fernandes, Principal at Hall School in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

For the past three years, sixth graders at my school have learned about architecture and design through an extracurricular program started by Thom Mayne, founder of the architecture firm Morphosis and winner of the Pritzker Prize. It’s been amazing to see 10- and 11-year-olds talking about angles, form, and design—and do it with confidence. Though they’re only in elementary school, the students do work at the level of middle- or high-schoolers. This year, they've used Google Pixelbook to create an accurate 3D model of their classroom, and then build on the model with abstract installations of their own design. We recently took a few minutes to hear from the students about their experience.

Q: What’s your favorite part about this class? What have you learned?
Miguel: I like creating things and showing them to other people. The part I love the most is talking about my creations—what do they mean? What do they say?

Milayna: My favorite part is when we do hands-on stuff, like models or drawings. I like this because it’s fun and I’m always proud of my work. I’m crafty.

Q: What’s a cool vocabulary word you learned about in this class? What does it mean?
Zamair: My favorite vocabulary word is “disarrange.” That means to put stuff in places so it’s not arranged.

Milayna: A cool vocabulary word is “suspended,” because it sounds cool, and it means hanging from the ceiling.

Shayla: My favorite word is “surround,” because you can make a cool model, than surround it with other, smaller or bigger, cool models.

Yalidsa: “Hierarchy.” It means the order of things, like different shapes and shades, what’s thick and thin, what’s heavy and light.

Q: Have you learned anything in this class that you use in other classes?
Milayna: I learned how to look at buildings differently, and that helps me because in social studies we are studying old buildings, so it fits in perfectly.

Zamair: I use architecture in math, with area and volume.

Q: What was your proudest moment in this class?
Kania: My proudest moment was when I did a great job on my presentation on my architecture project.

Miguel: My proudest moment was when a lot of people came in to see our projects, and we had to discuss them. I was the first to go up and speak, and everybody liked what I was saying, and that made me feel proud.

Q: If you were an architect, what would you want to make?
Yalidsa: My own clothing or toy shop.

Kania: I’d want to design my own house for me and my family.

Ernesto: A school or office building.

Joel: I’d want to make something that will make people's life easier.

Hasan: I’d build an airplane that’s beautiful. And that can go up in the air by itself.

Miguel: I’d want to make an office that would make everybody stop and think, “How did that person get that idea to make this?” It would probably be tall and have, like, a yellow shine to it when the sunset comes. The outside would most likely have a pattern on each wall, white and glowing.

Clinton: A big house with a pool and a football field and a basketball court.

Q: What’s it like to work with classmates on projects?
Clinton: It’s cool because I work with my friends, and it’s fun working with your friends.

Miguel: Working with classmates is cool because, when you have no idea of what to do, other people can help you out and give you more ideas. Working together is good because you can make something that was way better than you thought it would be.

Erik: It feels like you can do better work, since you’re working together and helping each other.

Q: What do you tell your friends about this program?
Joel: I tell my friends how cool this program is, and how we’re so lucky to be doing this.

Hasan: I tell them that it is a great program, and it’s what I might do when I grow up.

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    Joel presents his work during a critique with Thom Mayne.

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    Joel and Milayna collaborate on a project.

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    Students exploring what’s possible with AutoCAD on Pixelbook.

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