In this exciting episode of Laying the Foundation, we take a hands-on journey into the world of architecture and design and how we can bring that world to K12 students. We sent a team of our designers to visit a local school to engage students in a fun and educational STEM activity using LEGOs and explore the principles of architecture and design. From building structures to experimenting with different designs, students will get a firsthand look at how creativity, innovation, and problem-solving come together in the world of architecture. Tune in as we reflect on this enriching experience and discuss the importance of hands-on STEM learning in inspiring the next generation of designers and innovators.

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Episode Transcript

Skyler: Welcome to another episode of laying the foundation.

Skyler: Welcome back everybody to another episode of the laying the foundation podcast. My name is Skylar. I'm your host. And today I've got a few people in the studio and I'm going to let them all introduce themselves. And we're going to be talking about a hands on. STEM learning with some K 12 kids and it involves Legos and it involves design, which is really exciting, right up our alley.

Skyler: And we're going to talk about that and how that all kind of came to be and what it is. So I'll start over here with Tanner. Tanner, who are you?

Tanner: Uh, I'm Tanner Cappy. I am an architectural designer and been with CMBA since June of

Skyler: 2023. Fresh in, fresh in, but we're glad to have you.

Morgan: I'm Morgan Driscoll, and I'm an interior designer with CMBA.

Morgan: I've been with this company for a little over 10 years. Awesome.

Courtney: Hey, Skyler. I'm back again. I am so excited to get to be back in the studio. It's been at least a little bit since I happened to do one. I'm excited to be back. And this is actually really. near and dear to my heart because I have a nine, almost 10 year old son who loves Lego.

Courtney: So he was actually very disappointed. He didn't get to come to work with me today.

Skyler: Because it's not at their school. It's not. It's a different

Courtney: school to hear about what mom gets to go do. And he definitely was disappointed. Yes.

Skyler: Legos at school would have been like the ultimate thing.

Courtney: It's absolutely the ultimate thing I think in life right now at this age.

Courtney: So we love getting to see how the kiddos react and, and use that medium

Skyler: too. Yes, absolutely. So, okay, we know there's Legos involved that I think that's been established. What is this? This was a hands on STEM kind of learning, um, Lego involved event. What, what, what is it? What

Courtney: happened? So this is actually a, I think, brainchild of the Sioux Center schools and, um, their talented and gifted department wants to bring Lego together with the students and wanted to make that connection to architecture because that's where it all kind of originates from.

Courtney: What are we going to create and how do we use that imagination? And we were able to come alongside them, help them kind of build their, their Lego. Library, um, in some support of, of purchasing some of their sets. And then we're also able to see how the students are going to use those sets and, and start building and dreaming and even creating the sets and finding out more about them, um, in doing research about the buildings that they're going to work on so we can come alongside and, and help with the knowledge we know of, of the buildings and architectural history, but yet have them have something hands on and very tactile.

Courtney: to teach them about the buildings as well. Right, right.

Morgan: So the students that we're meeting with are second and third graders and they're meeting twice a week in the mornings. Um, we're checking in about once a month with these groups and the way that, um, this round of this program is set up, the students could decide whether or not they were going to work individually or team up with a partner or in a small group and basically select.

Morgan: A kit, a building that they were drawn to, something that they were interested in, looked like it would be a fun build, and over the course of the next couple months, um, so to the middle of May, basically, they have to complete this kit, um, by themselves or with a partner, and then also just Like Courtney mentioned, research, find out some fun facts about the building, how the building was constructed, maybe who constructed it, what's special about the interior.

Morgan: And then at the end of it all, in May, they'll present, um, basically like a kind of trifold presentation board with some images about the process and, um, what they've learned alongside of their completed model for the community to

Skyler: see. Very cool. So yeah, lots of, uh, there's the architect, architectural side, but there's also the architectural history side.

Skyler: Yeah. Cool. Taking all these. So what kind of sets were they, did they have the options of?

Tanner: Yeah. So a lot of the sets are primarily in that building range of historical monuments that you might see the statue of Liberty pyramid of Giza, right. Uh, some even skylines of Chicago, Japan, different things like that.

Tanner: And just seeing the excitement on them to Actually lean into those and you can tell that they're really excited about the buildings themselves.

Skyler: Yeah, awesome So not like the the Harry Potter's or the Star Wars other but these are like real life Actual locations that they get to kind of build through and then learn about along the way in the history of them

Morgan: obviously And I think one thing that is gonna be exciting to see is that these kits are quite a bit of a challenge For second and third graders, a lot of these kids say 16 plus 18 and older.

Morgan: And so it is going to take some time going through the instructions and all of the pieces that have to coordinate together. So when we met with them, um, we talked a little bit about how that correlates to what we do in architecture and design and the plans that we follow and the plans that we create and how we.

Morgan: Put the building together as a whole and kind of that process of, um, from start to finish to the completion of a project.

Skyler: Right. That's cool. That's cool. I was going to say, because like, these are big sets, they're going to take them months to put these together and to learn about them. Just like how, you know, any of the buildings that we do or the facilities that we do, they're not made in a day.

Skyler: You know, the classic Rome wasn't built in a day, which is, I feel like poignant because I wouldn't be surprised. Was there a Coliseum maybe or something along? No. Okay. That might've been too much. That was a, that would be a big set, but whatever the case is. That stuff doesn't happen within a day. So there's time, there's a process that has to go into it.

Skyler: And that gets reflected from what we do from a professional level into these sets and this whole project in, in, in its entirety.

Courtney: Yeah. And Skylar, that's actually one of the pieces we're going to bring with us when we go next month is we're going to bring some of our drawing sets, because Our team at CMBA also designed and just got finished with the Sioux Center High School project.

Courtney: Oh, so we're going to actually bring their plans that we put together so that they can see what that kit looked like in order to have the directions of how their high school came together. That's

Skyler: pretty cool. Okay. And then remind me again. So you said high school, but these weren't high school age, right?

Skyler: No,

Courtney: we're working with the second and third graders. That's right. Yep. So we have about 12 students and, um, Uh, mix between second graders and third graders, and we have a couple of girls in the group, and then we'll be working with them, kind of, depending on how they want to pair together as well though, um, across that, that age range.

Skyler: Perfect. Awesome. Very cool. So, what originally, like, what kind of got this idea started? Who, did someone approach us? Did we approach

Courtney: somebody? I actually think the, the instructor. Um, approached us of how we can make this connection with them because what they were looking for was a way to really invigorate this program, get it off the ground.

Courtney: And so they were looking for that investment to be able to have that help because, um, Titus, the director had said. Being able to purchase some of these kits would have ruined his entire budget or used his entire budget. So being able to kind of. In Fort reinforce some of that and inject some of those dollars early on, gave them the kits to be able to do this, but then our team came along with more of that mentoring aspect of it, to be able to see how architecture and interior design can unfold.

Courtney: the students can use their imagination, rather than just building this kit, being able to kind of bring it full circle for them. Right.

Skyler: Have like that professional perspective that can kind of share what you're doing and what that could look like as kind of a career path or something along those

Morgan: lines.

Morgan: I think we also saw it as a big benefit, um, to get in front of the students and it's such a great opportunity when we're right down the road from them. We have Several projects right in their backyard their cafeteria in their elementary school. We worked on recently So that's one that they are using on a daily basis They're all familiar with the high school and other projects around town.

Morgan: So just to kind of connect those dots Yeah, take them to those projects walk them through show them like Courtney mentioned the process that we used to get there And have us that worked on those projects You Explain it to them in a way that they understand and that they can see right in front of them and experience,

Skyler: right?

Skyler: Right. So that kind of brings me to another question. So what is what is kind of our spot within this whole project? You mentioned obviously walking them through the school and maybe talking to them a little bit like as they're building or what does this kind of look like because I didn't Get to go this morning.

Skyler: I would have but um, what is what is the other kind of process look like from our end?

Courtney: I think it's part of that process. It's It's getting to be a part of their project. So getting to know them, you know, as kids and what they do and what they see. But yet having those side conversations when you can talk to them while they are building about how that happens in the real world too.

Courtney: So that it's not just a kit, you know, a toy, but they could see how those parts and pieces actually work together. In the real world, as you know, wood and metal, stud and bricks and , no pun intended. Bricks, well, right , but being able to see, not plastic ones, how that actually works in, in the real world, but how it can apply to that smaller scale and give them something comparable at their age.

Courtney: Because at seven and eight and nine, yes, you know your home and you know your school. So. There's components there, but when you break it down on that scale, where it is something tangible to them, I think that's where we can make our biggest connection by, by those small conversations, that small group interaction, because everybody knows if you go listen to a speaker and they talk about it, there's a lot of things that you don't grasp, but when you're in that state of play that you can learn a lot of things because you're actually applying it, right?

Courtney: Right. It's not just something you're hearing.

Skyler: Exactly.

Courtney: Exactly. We also

Morgan: took the opportunity to at least start to describe all of the different people that are involved in a construction project, um, the different disciplines, how there are contractors and architects and designers and engineers and what all of their roles are in creating a project.

Morgan: So I think that will be something beneficial as we move forward and as they start to dive into the buildings, the projects that they selected, that we can help kind of prompt those questions In them to go research and, um, what topics or what things can we kind of steer them in this direction to discover a little bit more, ask certain questions along that, those lines.

Morgan: And

Courtney: Morgan, didn't the group of girls you were working with grab the White House and you guys started talking about how the first lady can maybe redecorate or do some of the things to the house to make it their own? Yes. I

Morgan: was, so I kind of joined a little group with a couple girls who picked the White House right away.

Morgan: And they were starting to spout out facts that they knew about the White House already and things that they were excited about, the rose gardens out in front that were part of the kit. And we were talking about the history of it and, you know, any type of reconstruction that would have happened. And, um, mentioned that, As a new first lady comes in the freedom that they have to change up the interiors to a degree.

Morgan: So just to look at that, how that's kind of transformed over time. So they were already starting to get excited about diving a little bit deeper into this

Skyler: project. Yeah, absolutely. Get the, get the hype going for sure. For sure.

Courtney: that will provide you with a wonderful work culture and a competitive pay rate. Look no further than CMBA Architects. Our firm offers flexible scheduling, a casual dress code, and a great work environment that will help you collaborate and create. Plus who doesn't love having Fridays off

Skyler: to learn more about our available positions.

Skyler: Visit the careers page at CMBA architects. com and apply to join the CMBA team.

Courtney: Tanner. I think your group too, that you were working with was looking at certain details too. Yeah.

Tanner: The group I was working with, they were really excited about some of the smaller details of the project. Okay. Not necessarily the historic value of the building, but just looking at how some of the smaller bricks make up the building.

Tanner: The larger sculpture of the building that they're going to be building. Right. And I think that'll tie in really well with what we're going to take with them next time is if we bring some of those renderings and some of those detailed drawings to really show like, Look, we even take these small details and put the building together at a whole scale.

Tanner: Ours aren't as pretty as the Lego books are, but they still get the same job done. Yeah, absolutely.

Skyler: It is

Courtney: interesting though, because if you've put together a Lego set, you know the inside does not look like what the outside looks like. It might be colorful bricks, and it might be something that's completely not associated with what the look is.

Courtney: Looks afterwards because if you know the architectural Lego kits, they're very clean. They're white and black and sometimes some tans, but they're very clean on the inside. It'll be interesting to see how that model comes together. Just like our buildings where you don't know what's all in those walls, right?

Courtney: But all of those parts and pieces have to go together to make that building function. Well, we all know we need insulation in the Midwest. But nobody sees that once the building is done. That's true. That's

Skyler: very true. Yeah. I'm starting to learn that recently as we're kind of redesigning our baby room in the coming months and seeing some ways that things were put together on the inside that we wish they weren't.

Skyler: Um, awesome. So. So was this the first time that you guys went down there to meet with these kids for this, this program?

Courtney: Yep. This was our very first kickoff. So we were meeting them. They were meeting us. Um, I think there was a little hesitancy when they don't know who all these adults are, but they came around and we, um, actually kicked off the morning building mini figs that were supposed to represent us.

Courtney: But you know, each kid had really good ideas of, of what would represent them. Well,

Tanner: very cool. Like somebody with seven pants,

Skyler: just like stack on top or yes.

Tanner: Hamburger head.

Skyler: Hey, I love it. I love it. It's a good way to like, have fun with them and get them to know you and, and everything like that. So what did you guys learn from this first thing?

Skyler: Like, I mean, obviously You know, going into it, it was kind of like, Oh, like, I don't know anything about this program or, you know, we have some details of like, kind of what we want to do here or what we want to accomplish, maybe some of the goals, but like actually getting to go there and spend time with the kids and be able to help them learn what did you guys kind of take away from that?

Morgan: I was excited to see. Just the way that this program is set up, I think, even though they're building off of these kits, the kids had a lot of say in how they wanted to go about this project. And so if they choose a set that they knock out pretty quickly, maybe with a smaller scale, they can move on to another one if they want to, or they could partner with someone, work independently if they wanted to, and I think the research piece of it is gonna go Kind of in that same direction where if there is a lane that someone wants to really dive deep down into to learn about the building they can choose to go that route.

Morgan: So it's pretty flexible, um, and I think just letting the kids find what they're passionate about and what angle they want to take.

Courtney: Very cool, very cool. I think it's going to be exciting to, when we go back, because there will be a few weeks in between. Okay. The students are going to be working though with some university students that are going to come over a couple of times.

Courtney: Their local high school students are going to come and help too. So they will have additional helpers kind of going through the process. Right. But we will check in next month. to see how much progress has been made. So we're really excited to see what changes have happened and where they're at

Skyler: now.

Skyler: Right, right. Did you guys keep up on the plan?

Courtney: Exactly. I think our biggest concern on our drive home was, I hope a piece doesn't get put in the wrong place. And then we have to figure out how to back

Skyler: out of it. Oh, I know. Yeah. I'm glad. It's a, it's like coding, right? Like, Oh, if there's one thing that's in the wrong spot, it's going to throw everything off and then you're going to just be hunting for it, trying to find where is that piece that's not supposed to be where it is.

Courtney: That's right. I would be really worried that the pyramids of Giza would not be a pyramid. So hopefully they get some good help and, and they're able to, Keep going with

Skyler: the models. Absolutely. You come back and there's, you know, the tower's leaning a little bit or something along those lines. Yeah. No, we'll all cross our fingers that everything is, is going smoothly and the directions are simple enough to read and follow along with.

Skyler: So when it comes to this program, I mean, what would you suggest for other schools that might have interest in maybe encouraging, um, this area of learning and how they could maybe take on a program similar to this? I

Courtney: think anything that could be hands on is going to be beneficial to the students. Now we all know, and I think we've even talked about this in prior podcasts.

Courtney: Learning has changed. And when students can use that hands on approach and see something come to life, it sticks with them a lot more and it's more meaningful and has more impact. So in the long run. Starting with any program that would be able to build that hands on approach is going to be very positive for the students, right?

Courtney: And whether it's Lego or any other I know we talked about this morning, and I'm sure some of the kids looked at us like, I don't know what that is, but we talked about, um, Lincoln logs and erector sets and all of the different things that we knew. When we were kids, but there's a lot of different programs out there that gives that hands on experience.

Courtney: And there's a lot of teachers that are already implementing that in their classrooms on a day to day basis, but even just taking it to the next level and seeing what students really excel in that and be able to keep that passion going, gives them that, that leg up to build that program. Right.

Morgan: And I would also add to just reach out to any local connections that you have.

Morgan: Um, I think just by bringing us along for this program and the other high school students and college students, you know, we can each contribute in our own way and just the benefit that we have of bringing our expertise to the table and the knowledge that we can share with these kids. So reach out to contractors or architects or different.

Morgan: You know, design fields that you may find beneficial in kind of tag teaming with this program. I know that Lego themselves sometimes gets involved with these. There's a lot of resources online too, that people can look into, um, to kind of guide them in some sort of curriculum for a program like this.

Morgan: Absolutely.

Skyler: And


Tanner: don't think it has to be just your elementary students. I think you should get the upper grades involved because that passion is really seen in these guys. Cause they really don't know how to control the excitement, but getting your middle schoolers and your high schoolers involved to get them to actually become architects or become engineers or keep using their hands in the long

Skyler: run.

Skyler: Yeah. Yeah. Cause yeah, hands on learning doesn't really stop when you reach a certain age or anything like that. You know, that That continues on. So yeah, get, get your high schoolers involved, get your college students. And I mean, I, and going back to what you were saying, Morgan, yeah, reach out to your local connections, whatever they might be, if they're related in any way, you'd be, I think people would be surprised at how many people are interested in getting involved.

Skyler: Helping the next generation to learn and to grow within that field to find that passion. I think people would be really surprised at how many people are willing to be a part of that. For sure. And that's exciting. So awesome. Um, so looking ahead, do you see this program expanding being a little, I know I might be jumping the gun.

Skyler: I might be assuming something here, but I mean, do you think there's an opportunity where that could

Courtney: happen? I think it would be awesome if that happened. We're hoping that this is that springboard for this. School district to continue this process to be able to learn from what happens this year. Sure.

Courtney: And, you know, keep it going. Keep building with it. I

Skyler: got it again. You've got so many puns going on. We're going to keep building and keep building. I love it.

Courtney: Yep. Yep. I think I've watched Lego Masters one too many times. Thanks. That's a fun show. That's a fun show. Um, yeah, but I do. I think if, if they can continue the excitement and the energy, I know when we were in the classroom that we were in this morning.

Courtney: Uh, with those students, the ones that were not in that group and passing by for their school day to start really looked intrigued. So it was really hard to look out and be like, I don't think you get to do this group yet, but I think it builds interest when people see things happening and that they can see that.

Courtney: Learning on display. Absolutely. It brings more people in and I think with this group, it will continue and if other districts even want to learn from them, I would say, reach out to them, see what they did and how they got started and we all learned from each other. Absolutely.

Skyler: Absolutely. I think that's awesome.

Skyler: Yeah. And like Tanner said, don't, don't stop at the, you know, second and third grade kids. What about all the other kids? And obviously they're shown interest while they're walking by and seeing kids working on Lego sets and they're curious and they want to, you know, Join in and all the other stuff. There

Tanner: actually was a kid that joined in and the instructor had to send him out because he was there for the wrong time.

Tanner: But it was just so great to see that, like he was just passing by to go get breakfast and was like, Ooh, Legos. And just thought

Courtney: he could do it. I'm pretty sure when we left, some of our colleagues probably thought they would want to go do Lego with us too today. So it's a, it's contagious all the

Skyler: way around.

Skyler: That's awesome. That's so exciting. So yeah, absolutely. Get start, you know, one spot and then just kind of expand out and we'll see if maybe there's some other schools in the area or anywhere else in the world that, you know, want to get involved. I don't know if we'll be able to send representatives out to the rest of the world, but again, this is just kind of a springboard as, as you said, Courtney, so absolutely awesome.

Skyler: All right. Well, that's all the questions that I had. So I just want to say a huge thank you to all of you guys, not only just for the podcast, but the fact that you guys went down there and you're getting involved with these kids. I think that's awesome. I think. It's really great to see them learning and to see them finding this passion.

Skyler: So thanks Skylar. Absolutely. guys. Uh, once again, this has been another episode of laying the foundation. I've been here with Tanner, Morgan and Courtney, who did a fantastic job giving us a rundown on this amazing season. STEM program that they're helping to spearhead and springboard. As we said before, um, if you'd like to learn a little bit more about what it is that we do as architects, you can definitely check us out at our website at CBA architects.

Skyler: com. Feel free to reach out to us with the contact form there. If you are, uh, want more ways to connect with us, you can definitely find us on social media, whether that be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn. And of course. Be sure to follow the laying the foundation podcast, wherever podcasts can be found, whether that be Spotify, Apple podcasts, YouTube, and everywhere else, be sure to subscribe so that you never miss an episode.

Skyler: Once again, my name is Skylar. I'm the host, and thank you once again for listening to laying the foundation.

Post by CMBA
March 21, 2024