SOUTHFIELD – As part of Lawrence Technological University’s Extreme Science Saturdays Program, LTU’s College of Architecture and Design led the program on November 18 to teach high school students from multiple Detroit and Metro-Detroit high schools about city permit approvals and building techniques through the use of the design process.
The workshop – “You Are the Designer: Building a Model of Your Own Park” – gave participants the inside scoop to how a designer takes an idea to implementation through a series of hands-on stations. Using the design process, each student went through a series of steps to complete the workshop, ending with a model of their own community park.
Before they began, students were given a site plan permit form and a budget. The students then proceeded to their first of five stations. Students from the College of Architecture and Design played a key role in helping with the workshop, assisting students through every station.
The first station focused on selecting the type of park they were challenged to design. There were three different variables: the park context, a key park feature and an environmental sustainability feature. The teams randomly selected these options for the design challenge. Each student received six different combinations of challenges. One team was required to design an urban park with an ice rink and solar panels. Another team had a much different mix: a rural park, with a children’s playscape and a rainwater collection method.
In the second station, the students evaluated and analyzed their challenge with a series of questions on the permit sheet, such as “What type of people will you be serving at your park?” and “How will you make the structures in your park stable?” The students also had the opportunity to draw out the plan for their park at this station. Many did not hesitate to add extra features in their park and gave it a creative name.
The third station focused on interacting with the city planning department. This is where students presented their plan for their park to Rasha Shkoukani, a senior architecture student at LTU, who was playing the role of city planner. After explaining their ideas, including what materials they were going to use and how they were going assemble their park, Shkoukani gave them the stamp of approval, allowing them to proceed to the next station.
At the fourth station, students purchased their virtual building materials. The challenge here was staying within budget and choosing materials wisely before building began.
The fifth station provided an opportunity to build their park. Using their building permit drawings and their purchased materials, the students brought their ideas to life. Many materials found in the home such as recycled cardboard, plastic straws and wooden sticks were all used to create these parks.
The final stage of the workshop was a team competition. Each team had the opportunity to present their park to a group of judges, who were LTU architecture and design students. The judges had the difficult responsibility of choosing the design that best addressed their design challenges.
Picking a winner was challenge for the “city planner” Skhoukani, but eventually she choose the team that incorporated solar heat lamps in their park. Skhoukani pointed out that all the designs were thoughtful and had strengths, whether it was in model building or their drawings. At the conclusion of the session, the students expressed they had fun and would like to design more in the future.
The Extreme Science Saturday Program is hosted by LTU’s Marburger STEM Center and provides a series of fun, hands-on activities for a range of topics within chemistry, biology, engineering and mathematics. For more information on LTU’s Marburger STEM Center activities, visit www.ltu.edu/stem-center.
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 100 universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.