The First Annual AIA New Jersey Kids Design Day is a Success

December 6, 2018

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The First Annual AIA New Jersey Kids Design Day is a Success

AIA New Jersey and the New Jersey Institute of Technology College of Architecture and Design welcomed middle school students from Newark Public Schools for the first annual Kids Design Day. This new event grew out of mission presented by 2018 AIA NJ President Verity Frizzell, FAIA, to attempt to balance the equity in the profession by offering architecture education and programming to under-represented student communities in the hopes of encouraging more minority students to consider a future career in the industry. Along with a variety of other K-12 outreach programs implemented to respond to this request, the AIA NJ Equity in Architecture Committee submitted a winning proposal written by founding chair Stacey Ruhle Kliesch, AIA, for the AIA K-8 Learning By Design Chapter Grant funded by Armstrong World Industries Foundation through AIA New Jersey. It is expected that this national program will have impact over 10,000 K-8 underserved students in their communities across all winning Chapter programs. AIA New Jersey is thrilled to have been selected for this honor. Additional funding for lunch was provided by Pella Windows and Doors. Venue and furniture rentals were provided by NJIT CoAD.

Jerome L. Eben, FAIA, explains the process of zoning in town planning.

The program for the day included tours of the NJIT College of Architecture and Design led by CoAD Interim Dean Anthony Schuman, NJIT CoAD faculty member Kevin Hoffman and Richard Wan, followed by a presentation on becoming an architect created by Christina Amey, AIA, president of AIA South Jersey and given by Kliesch, the master of ceremonies for the event. Following, students were introduced to a city planning charette led by Architects League President and new AIA NJ K-12 co-chair, Joseph David, AIA, and his colleague Cecilia Cano, Associate AIA.

Mentor Brian Kim, Associate AIA, working with the students

Throughout the day, the students were encouraged by a team of guest architect mentors from across the state. Volunteers included new AIA NJ K-12 co-chair and AIA Newark and Suburban trustee John Fallon, AIA; AIA Newark and Suburban President Elect Paul Tiajoloff, AIA; AIA NJ First Vice President Steven Lazarus, AIA; Newark and Suburban member Elizabeth Pacheco, AIA; AIA West Jersey trustee and new AIA NJ Women in Architecture Chair Lauren Harris, Associate AIA; AIA Central Section Equity Committee Education representative and event photographer Anthony Reda, Associate AIA; AIA NJ President Verity Frizzell, FAIA; Architects League of Northern New Jersey member Louis DiGeronimo, AIA; Newark and Suburban member Jerry  Eben, FAIA; Associate member, Brian Kim and Troylene Ladner, AIA. Newark Public School participation was coordinated by Sarah Cruz of the NPS Office of Expanded Learning Time with introduction by John Fallon. All logistics and arrangements at NJIT were made possible through the dedication and commitment of Kim Dripchak and Amada Belton of the office of the College of Architecture and Design. Sarah, Kim and Amada took Stacey’s visions and injected them with reality to make this event possible.

AIA NJ First Vice President Steven Lazarus, AIA, works with a student on her architectural model.

While the students asked engaging questions throughout the day, Anthony Reda noted, “The students lit up with excitement when they visited the various 3D modeling and fabrication studios. You could see how inspired they were by the process of visualizing an idea with their imagination and then seeing it exist in the real world.  It was a special experience to witness some of the children be exposed to architecture and design for the first time.  Many of them immediately started to cite experiences and places from their own communities and the design behind them. They drew conclusions about their built environment that were impressive for how young they were. ”

Elizabeth Pacheco, AIA, NJIT CoAD Interim Dean Tony Schuman and John Fallon, AIA, explain how the design process can influence a community.

The design charette allowed the students 60 minutes to choose a building type, design and construct a model of that building, after which the larger group came together to assemble an ideal town plan. This involved a great deal of discussion, debate and adjustment, resulting in a well thought through layout.

Charette guides Joseph David, AIA and Cecilia Cano, Associate AIA assist the students in laying out the city.

According to Dean Schuman, “We were very happy to host the event at NJIT and hope AIA NJ will repeat next year. For me, the highlight of the day was the palpable excitement in the students’ eyes at all points during the day – the tour of the facilities, the presentations in the lecture hall, and, especially, their work in creating their “city”.  The teachers also seemed very engaged.”

JoAnn Pringle-Fowlin of Belmont Runyon Elementary School listens to a design concept from her student.

The final segment of the day included three student entrepreneur teams from the 2018 New Jersey School Board Association STEAM Tank Competition presenting their stand out ideas. These teams were recognized by AIA NJ President Frizzell at the STEAM Tank awards ceremony on November 8th, 2018, as having created solutions that will benefit their community, positively affect the built environment and potentially provide long lasting improvements to society at large. They were selected after hours of presentations by hundreds of teams by STEAM Tank jurors Jessica O’Donnell, AIA; Joseph David and Stacey Kliesch. Presentations featured Menu @ Your Fingertips by Gabrielle Calandra and Madelena DiFabio of Pleasant Valley Elementary School in Pleasant Valley, Smart Alarm by Lauren Lang and Nishka Narang of Columbia Middle School in Berkeley Heights and H2O Fortress by Mikayla Jackson and Andrew Skurnik of Camden County Technical High School. Student presenters also took part in the other activities of the day. John Henry and Jennifer Siehl of the New Jersey School Board Association made this component possible.

Participating students from Newark Public Schools arrived from Ivy Hill Elementary School, Belmont Runyon Elementary and South Street School. Each student received a design tool kit containing sketching pencils, colored pencils and a sketchbook to use throughout the day and take home with them. Both students and chaperones were enthusiastic and engaged in all activities. They were delightful to work with. The energy generated by this event has fueled excitement for future K-12 endeavors for AIA NJ and ideas are already percolating for Kids Design Day 2019!

Mentor Louis DiGeronimo, AIA, assists Gabrielle Calandre and Madelena DiFabio of STEAM Tank construct models.

Thank you to Armstrong World Industries Foundation, AIA, Pella, NJIT College of Architecture and Design, Newark Public Schools, the New Jersey School Board Association and AIA NJ for making this event possible.

Paul Tiajoloff, AIA, asks questions to get his students thinking like an architect.

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