Outdoor Classroom

Students choose the life they wish to lead.

In an extension from a project this fall where students learned about sustainable housing effort and as a final project designed a sustainable structure, students this spring took part in building a sustainable structure at William Smith. This structure resulted in a low raised platform with a heavy duty tent pitched outside William Smith. In addition to this space, students were tasked with planning and executing an individual project of choice that would enhance this area as a classroom space. Students designed a green house with raised garden beds, a banquet style picnic table and a storage shelf to keep materials close while using this space.

Throughout this project, students were tasked with different stages of the architectural design project. They began by developing the skill of reading blueprints demonstrating comprehension of scale factor and turned the blueprint into a 3D model in order to demonstrate the degree to which they understood the design. Students then leveled the ground, framed the supports and laid the composite decking that our tent now stands on. Through this process they learned about using power tools such as drills and circle saws, the importance of accurate measurement and precision, and the benefit of teamwork. Once completed, students were able to engage in the beginning of the design process by creating a smaller project of their own, drawing a blueprint, creating a budget and proposing their design for approval.

Three individual projects were strong enough to pass the approval process and receiving funding. Those projects that were approved were a picnic table with benches, a decking table with tire chairs, and a shelving unit. In order to have their projects approved, students had to provide a detailed blueprint and 3d model demonstrating their design, a complete budget for materials and a rationale as to why their project is important for the school and necessary for us to have. The group decking project plus these three additional projects made a space that allowed for class collaboration and student group work.