Last week, a fellow PhD student and I collaborated with the Syracuse University School of Architecture on a project for 7th grade girls enrolled in the sustainability and alternative energy program for Project Engage. We wanted to create a project that would teach the girls fundamental concepts of green infrastructure and involve some hands on experience to better understand how green technologies function.
We designed a dog house complete with insulated walls and a green roof on top. Enough materials were ordered to build 4 doghouses, though one was more of a prototype to flush out design flaws. During the week before the girls arrived, we spent each morning in the architecture machine shop cutting the wood and assembling some of the parts. For the actual project day, the girls were split into teams to assemble the walls of the final three doghouses, mix the soil medium, and plant the sedums on the green roofs.
The final products were a success, and overall the girls seemed to enjoy the experience. Having never had experience in a machine shop, the project was just as much a learning experience for myself as well. This project also taught me a lot about the importance of having a solid design plan ahead of time (we were constantly resizing and redesigning the house structure) and time management, since the scale of the project continued to grow and take time away from my other commitments. Nevertheless, the project was a success and I am happy that I was a part of it. The doghouses still need to be weatherized before they can be used outside, but hopefully we can keep one around the department for the other students and faculty (or some of their pets) to enjoy!