Plainfield, NH, November 12, 2004 - “Teaching local 4th graders about the principles and history of architecture was extremely rewarding,” says intern architect, Stephen Endy of UK Architects in Hanover, NH.  Endy and architect, Hunter Ulf, AIA, recently taught three classes about architectural form and design to Plainfield, NH Elementary School 4th grade students, culminating in the design of club houses made out of shoeboxes.  This educational experience was spearheaded by the New Hampshire chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA NH) as the first statewide application of a national AIA volunteer educational program called, Learning By Design

The Plainfield Elementary 4th grade class identified historic buildings in New Hampshire and learned about various architectural forms.  Then, students were asked to physically act out architectural forms such as a column, arch, dome, vault, and a truss, by standing tall or linking hands and arms as a group, and thereby demonstrating the cooperative interaction of tension and compression. 

After this exercise, teams of two students were formed to design and create a scale model of a club house using shoeboxes.  Each team determined what activities they wanted to include in their club house and how much space to provide.  Next, they drew a floor plan based on the shape and size of their shoebox.  Finally, the teams chose site locations for their club houses ranging from mountain tops, beach fronts, arid deserts, and even a tree.  Students were encouraged to consider the relationship between interior space and exterior site conditions including access to natural light.

Jonni Nichols, the 4th grade teacher at Plainfield Elementary School, was excited about the program, as it tied in well with their current study of fractions and geography.  The class chose one representative club house model to be sent to AIA NH for display with models from other schools around New Hampshire.