Architectural Design: Dream House Edition

Where would you build your dream house, if you could pick anywhere in the world?

Henry decided his dream house would fit well on the shores of a lake in Iceland. The home has front facing windows and a deck that runs the length of the front overlooking the lake and the mountains beyond.

The location is certainly beautiful, but required unique design considerations. The roof, for instance, had to be practical for a snowy region. “One thing I took into account was the slope of the roof,” Henry said. ” I couldn’t just make a flat roof. It had to be sloped so the snow would just slide off.”

Cooper’s dream house is set in Copper Mountain, Colorado, “right on a hill – ski in, ski out,” he said. “Our friends built a house right on the lot I’m building on.”

While the location and lot were based on the friend’s house, Cooper added his own extravagant amenities.

“I added the things it was missing,” Cooper said, “like a ski room, kind of like a mudroom, but you come in after skiing and you can store your skis in there.”

The house also has a trampoline (yes, IN the house), and a foam pit in the living room. The second story is lofted “and you can jump into the foam pit from the second floor,” Cooper said.

If you think that is over the top, wait until you hear about the garage. The garage/warehouse includes a pool with changing rooms, storage for mountain “toys” like Jeeps, ATVs, skateboards, and bikes, and – wait for it – a skate park, with a second foam pit. “When I built my house I kinda wanted it to be unique so I put a skatepark in it,” Cooper said.

Although many Colorado mountain homes are used for vacation, Cooper wants to make it his permanent home. “I’d probably live here full time,” he said.

The homes created in the class Architectural Design range from the extreme to the elegant. Cece’s house on the North Shore features a great room with a grand piano and “a morning room facing Lake Superior where you can watch the sunrise through the window. There is a hidden library; if you slide the bookshelf it’ll open the library.”

While she splurged on some areas like the hidden library, other design decisions were based on practicality. “We had to think about the design, too, like how many bathrooms, bedrooms. You can’t just have a fun house.”

Cece learned to pay attention to details when designing. “I had to keep in mind the size (of appliances), especially for the kitchen sinks and toilets. You don’t want it to be too small or too big to fit.”

Space, light, and flow also had to be considered. “I learned that once you start putting walls up you see how open or closed the space is,” Cece said. “When you block off space, it can feel closed in.” She discovered this when she built her dining room. “I removed a wall because it would be too closed in,” she said.

Sophie’s property features a forest of large construction paper trees and a tree house. “It looks kind of crooked like the kids living in the house built it,” Sophie said of her unique tree house.

Ryan placed his dream home in a new development outside of Fargo, North Dakota. “I like flat areas,” he said as he flipped through google images of his building site. The flat open prairie stretched for miles in all directions. “It’s kind of out in the country and it’s away from busy streets, like in St. Paul,” he said.

Sadie’s house is located near Washington, D.C., on High Island in the middle of the Potomac River. “I wanted it to be cabin-like,” so she designed the house to feature a field stone and brick exterior.

One thing she learned about architecture was, “it actually matters where the sun sets and rises. It matters where in the house you would be (during those times),” she said. Those elements determine how buildings are angled and where windows and rooms are placed.

Sadie was happy to be in the design class. “I really like building stuff,” she said. “I came in here every year for Open House for five years.” She was so excited to finally try her hand at designing her own dream home.

Written & Illustrated By…Future Famous Authors!

Penelope crouched over her paper, drawing intently. “It’s a thumbnail sketch,” she explained. “Illustrator means drawing pictures. We draw four different pictures for one page. We number them and then we choose which one we want for our page.”

In Written and Illustrated By, students create characters, a story, and detailed illustrations that result in a digital storybook. Penelope’s story involved a horse and pegasus, conflict, magic gold dust sprinkled by angels, and a happy ending full of lasting friendship.

“I love writing stories and I love drawing pictures. Almost everyday I draw pictures,” Penelope said. “I wrote about five stories in my school and read them to my class.”

The plot of Cooper’s “Robo versus Doctor Robot” was a far cry from flying horses and gold dust. “It’s a super hero and a bad guy robot fighting,” he said.

“Robo is a robot and he has lightening bolts on his head that shoot lightening as his super power,” Cooper continued. “He has jet boosters on his feet” that allow him to fly.

Cooper also worked on his initial sketches today. “Thumbnails is to practice the pictures and try to get them as good as you can.”

Eliana was in the middle of deciding which background to use for one of her illustrations. “I like the watercolor one because it looks more realistic.” She picked up her black paper cutout of an adorable dog and a white bathtub and placed them on the yellow and brown striped background.

Eliana chose to use multi-media forms for her illustrations. “I didn’t really want to do just color pencil, so I’m doing cutout paper, water colors, drawings,” she said.

Eliana’s story features three different dogs, all owned by the same owner at different times. “My antagonist is the only mean dog in the story,” she said.

Orange and red colored pencils rolled around Evan’s desk as he colored in an spaceship on fire. In “Eye Wars”, there is an invasion of space ships coming toward Earth. “Eye Warriors are fighting the invasion,” Evan explained. “They shot one down.” He pointed to his fiery ship. “Sometimes when they are shot down they come in like a meteor.”

The students use the software “Story Jumper” to create a digital storybook as the final version. Their text and illustrations can be uploaded onto pages. Not only can they digitally turn pages like a real book, but they can also record their voices reading the story. The stories can be shared digitally, or even purchased and printed out in book form.

Evie edited her story, “Jent’s Clue”, on the computer. “Wait, that’s supposed to say ‘fixated on’ the butterfly, not ‘saw’,” she said as she read a line about Benny. Benny, the two-year-old cat, “fixated on” a butterfly, ran into a tree, was knocked out, and taken to the veterinarian with friend, Jent. A fox on the next vet table scratched him in the eye, and later, after other adventures, Jent and Benny foil a burglary attempt at the museum, involving, of course, that mean-spirited fox.

Kaylani put finishing touches on her precious drawing of Stella the Turtle. “She finds a glass bottle that has a letter in it from a girl in California,” Kaylani said. The literate turtle and the girl become penpals, save money to visit each other, and have wonderful adventures in their respective home cities.

Tech Ninjas Battle ‘Bots

Wiggle Bots

It was a highly-anticipated Battle of the ‘Bots – Wiggle ‘Bots, that is, – in Tech Ninjas this afternoon.

Tech Ninjas visited The Works Interactive Children’s Museum today to learn about engineering and to create their very own wiggling robots.

“What do motors do?” asked The Works teacher, Riley.

“They move stuff. They spin and do other things,” said Alistair.

Riley gave each student a small silver motor and asked them to discuss what they discover.

“There’s a magnet inside!” Vincentas noticed right away. “Is there sap in here?” he asked peering into the motor chamber. “It feels sticky.”

Eli demonstrated his knowledge of the motor workings. “The electric coils collect electricity from the magnet when it spins,” said Eli. “If you could spin it fast enough, it would make electricity.”

“But there’s no way a human can make it spin fast enough,” Weston said.

“You would need electricity,” added Maxwell.

At the next table, students shared what they had learned about their tiny motors.

“We found copper wires,” Zoe said.

Alistair found an alternative use: “We found they make good spinning tops,” he laughed, spinning the motor across the table.

Ethan noticed that his was “a three-cylinder motor.”

When The Works teacher misspoke and called copper an insulator, the kids were quick to correct him. “I think copper is a conductor,” corrected Alistair. You can’t get anything by these smarties.

The next challenge, said Elias, “was to make the copper wire spin.” Nolan placed a piece of coiled copper wire onto two prongs set above a magnet and watched as it started to spin. “It’s magnetic force!” he shouted excitedly.

Colin observed that the wire grew warm the more it spun. “We also noticed something – it gets hotter,” he said. “It’s hot because of the energy it’s using.”

Nolan hypothesized that more magnets might create more spin. But his test didn’t pan out. “Guys,” he warned, “don’t add two magnets. It basically stops it.”

Rhett was excited and concerned, but mostly excited. “My copper is cooking! Can you smell it?

Moving into the next step of the engineering process, Siena taped bright yellow electrical tape to a paper clip. “It’s going to attach to a motor and another wire and then to another paper clip and when we connect the paper clips, it’s going to spin an eraser.” We were getting closer to the “wiggle” part of the ‘bot.

Once the mechanics of the ‘bot were completed, it was time for artistic embellishments. Students could use decorative elements such as pipe cleaners, googly eye stickers, markers, and colorful straws to personalize their Wiggle ‘Bots.

Maxwell said the class would have a competition with the wiggle ‘bots back at school. “We’re going to do battle with them,” he said.

Before it even got to wiggle once, Colin’s ‘bot already had a personality and a name. “I’m going to name my ‘bot Sir Wiggler!” he laughed.