Civil engineering students at New Century Technology High School have been working since August to complete a children’s playhouse with the help of volunteers from Habitat for Humanity. The project-based service learning endeavor has engaged students in a variety of skills, which include design, construction, safety, time management, communications, and even public relations. Habitat for Humanity has provided all the materials needed for construction and has had volunteers on-site at New Century to work with students during the building process.
“When you’re doing something hands-on,” says NCTHS student Sarah Olocha, “you tend to remember it more.” She echoes a sentiment that seems to be shared by all of the students involved in the project, including Hannah White who says that it is of special benefit to kinesthetic learners like herself. Civil engineering teacher Caroline Reed says that this time last year she was teaching the same subject, “but we were labeling diagrams with arrows on a worksheet on the computer.” She says that the students are now getting to experience the actual construction of a residential structure, and even though it’s just a playhouse with no electricity or plumbing – it’s still more effective and relevant to real life.
The students all have job titles, and Ms. Reed had them write about possible tasks that could be related to that job position. She says that they are learning to maintain or keep their job positions with checkups on how they are performing.
While some students may be focused on things like designing paint schemes or framing, others are focused on engaging the public, managing teams, or ensuring effective communication between the two classes in charge of the project. Collin Jones, for instance, was assigned as the safety manager. He says it’s a big responsibility making sure that nobody is harmed, “because it will not only affect the project, it will also affect them.”
The team hopes to have the project finished in time to be put on display at the Thanksgiving Day Parade. If there are any delays, Ms. Reed says that they are looking at the Christmas Parade as a backup possibility. After it goes on display, the playhouse will be sold at auction with all proceeds benefitting Habitat for Humanity.