8 Ways to Make Your School Building a Learning Opportunity
Wisconsin classrooms have changed quite a bit since we completed our first K12 construction project in the late 1950s. As student learning styles, technology and course curricula have evolved, so have the classrooms themselves. Over the course of the more than 200 school construction projects we’ve completed since that first one in 1958, we’ve seen firsthand how modern, innovative classroom design can positively impact student learning and achievement. There certainly hasn’t been a shortage of articles and studies backing up the benefits of flexible learning spaces, collaboration spaces, and modern STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) classrooms, but there’s been surprisingly little talk about another modern learning opportunity, one that exposes students to advanced 3D imaging technology, augmented and virtual reality, advanced engineering, skilled trades, and guidance to in-demand and high paying jobs. We’re talking of course about building the schools themselves.
1. Career Path Presentations and Guidance
From engineers to electricians; construction managers to 3D modelers; the architecture, engineering and construction — or AEC — industry offers a wide variety of in-demand, high-paying and rewarding career paths. Unfortunately, there’s often little awareness of these careers among students (and often even adults) and the many benefits they can offer. To put it succinctly: if they can’t see it, they can’t be it. That’s why students at all levels and age groups can benefit from in-class interactive demonstrations and presentations from industry professionals, learning what the industry has to offer and what it takes to get there.
2. Job Shadowing and jobsite tours
Go beyond the presentations and give interested students a chance to see what a day in the life of a modern construction professional looks like, on the jobsite and in the office. We give students an up-close look at what it takes to bring a construction project to life, pairing them with industry-leading experts.
Then, make it come alive! Take learning from the classroom and into …. well, the classroom. The ones being built, that is. We give students the opportunity to take a fun, safe and educational tour of the work underway, guided by the professionals managing the work itself. Students can see up close what goes into complex, modern construction projects and get a completely unique view of their school at the same time!
3. Support Your Existing Curriculum
There are many, MANY ways that construction trades mirror and fit into current K12 curriculum. We can (and regularly do) work with schools to integrate construction activities and trades into STEAM classes. Popular activities range from create a fun building project for Tech Ed. classes to build; teaching students how to properly use actual tools used in the field; hands-on demonstrations and activities by our Virtual Design & Construction team on 3D modeling and Augmented/Virtual Reality for computer science and engineering classes; and much more.
4. Ensuring Student Safety
Nothing is more important than ensuring safe practices in and around construction areas. By nature extremely curious, students who are educated on construction activities, safe practices and given a look at the work underway are far less likely to put themselves in harm’s way to satisfy that curiosity. Construction personnel can also demonstrate the the steps their own crews take every day to ensure safety, and how students can put safe thinking into practice anywhere they go.
5. Document the Process and Create Memories
Hey, call us biased, but there are very few things an inherently cool as construction and watching a building rise from the ground. We can work with school newspaper and yearbook staff, as well as photography and videography students to document the construction work taking place in their school. This is a great way to involve all students, and even the community, besides just classes focused on STEAM curriculum.
6. Get Answers From the Experts
Anyone who has spent any amount of time around kids, especially young ones, knows that they’re always full of questions. We’re happy to answer them and our people love talking about the work they do. Programs like our popular “Ask the Builders” allows students to submit their questions directly to our construction teams to be answered. We can even make a video of the responses that students and their parents can watch at home, keeping parents informed.
7. Foster School Pride
Students who are more involved in their school take more pride in their school. Our teams are constantly coming up with fun new ways for students to be involved in building their school at all ages. Participating in the groundbreaking, having a beam-signing ceremony, placing a time capsule in the cornerstone, even incorporating student input in the design of the school itself; there’s no shortage of opportunities to make this project inclusive of the whole student body.
8. Fundraising Opportunities
We’re not saying that construction workers inherently like cookies more than the rest of people, we’re just saying that many a girl and boy scout has made their sales quota from the construction workers at their school. And beyond cookies, our construction teams are always looking for ways they can directly and indirectly give back to the students and schools, from volunteering opportunities to charity events.