Center for Architecture: Architectural Residency program for NYC schools

3rd graders at PS 133M construct bridges based on research of local structures and studied engineering strategies

3rd graders at PS 133M construct bridges based on research of local structures and studied engineering strategies

During the 2015-16 academic year, with important support from The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, the Center for Architecture implemented its signature architectural residency program for New York City schools, Learning By Design:NY, in fifty one classrooms from thirteen Title I schools, serving 881 students and teachers.

Design educators from the Center for Architecture worked with participating teachers to develop 6-10-week architecture residencies customized to support each classroom’s academic goals in core subjects including math, science, social studies and language development. These multidisciplinary curricular units utilize their sequential teaching methodology to deliver an introduction on how to think and work like an architect – building new knowledge and analyzing real-world examples; strengthening understanding by creating and testing; and presenting designs and receiving feedback.

The Center for Architecture enjoys an ongoing partnership with PS 42M, in Chinatown, and during 2015-16, Learning By Design:NY residencies were held in all four 2nd grade classes, and focused on bridge engineering. This unit aligned with 2nd grade social studies curriculum on New York City history, and met the teachers’ needs to enhance learning in other academic subjects. Through hands-on design challenges and class discussions, students learned about the structure and design of different types of bridges (beam, truss, suspension, arch, and movable bridges) and worked in teams to design and build their own working bridge models. PS 42M has a high percentage of English Language learners, so teachers incorporated reading, writing and research projects into the program, taking advantage of students’ motivation to complete an interdisciplinary project to develop their language and communication skills.

Through meaningful research and collaborative design thinking, students gained a deeper understanding of their shared built environment. By giving youth insight into the process of planning and building, Center for Architecture is investing in their potential – as professionals or as informed citizens – fostering a sense of neighborhood ownership and ultimately working towards more equitable urban communities.