Top: Students with architects:  Left to right – Alex, Ben, Emily, Molly, Kate, Sophia, Caleb, and Tiki.  Back row:  Lee Dore, Rob Fitzgerald, Billy Novotny.Bottom: Scale drawing Team at work:  Left to right – Maddie, Kelsey, Seth

FHTMS Polaris Team Explores Learning Spaces

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Thursday June 27, 2013

The sixth grade Polaris Team at Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School took a close look this spring at the relationship between learning spaces and learning.  They had help from specialists in school design - Lee Dore, Rob Fitzgerald, and Billy Novotny of Dore and Whittier Architects, Inc., a South Burlington firm.

Students began their study by considering the skills that 21st century learners will need.  They then visited several area schools in order to gain perspective on how other schools design and use their spaces.  Students considered traffic and movement, student work spaces, lobby areas, technology and infrastructure, color, and art, to name a few of the features observed and documented.

Bringing it back home to FHTMS, students created scale drawings of their team area and the lobby and then set to work in small cooperative groups, imagining and reinventing our spaces.  They read related research identifying the importance of natural light, color, air circulation, and sound control.  They learned about the use of bubble diagrams to identify spatial relationships and functions – and then created their own.

When the project was complete, each group of 2-4 students on the team had created a floor plan for the spaces that showed, in two dimensions, their visions for the future.  From the twenty-four designs submitted, teachers chose four to send to the architects who then selected two designs, one of the lobby area and one of our team space to render into a three dimensional (3D) vision.  
The culmination of their study was the presentation of the final designs to the whole team.  Dore, Fitzgerald and Novotny helped the students understand how a design is taken from 2D to 3D and then shared the wonderful visions for the future created by the students. 

Some of the students’ visions are easy to address.  A coat of paint is relatively inexpensive.  Some ideas will need to wait.  Nothing that changes happens without someone first imagining it!

SOURCE: Kris Kenlan, FHTMS Teacher