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My name is Spencer Folsom, and, for my senior project, I designed an outdoor learning space for the Etowah High School Campus. I have always had an interest in structures and buildings, so when I picked my senior project, I made sure to do something related to architecture. I have also been in the architecture program for the past three years. This gave me some base knowledge on the design process. However, this was my first time designing a space like this.
For my research, I studied how the environment and nature affects children's learning growth. In today's society, technology has become so advanced that children are able to do anything or see anything using technology such as cell phones, computers, television, and video games. This eliminates the need for children to go outside, and schools work the same way. This causes children to remain inside for almost all day. Through my research, I found several schools that have developed programs that get students outside to learn for a period of the school day instead of staying inside all day. When asked, students in schools with this type of system tend to enjoy school much more than students who stay inside almost all day. The more a student enjoys the school, the more apt they will be to focus in school and obtain and retain knowledge more effectively.
My product is a storyboard that presents my designs in an appealing manner. My design consists of a covering system made up of tensile membrane fabric that allows sunlight to enter the space while providing shade at the same time and a seating system that is attached to the existing sidewalk. I suffered from several problems throughout the creation of my process. For example, my facilitator could be difficult to get in communication with at times, my mother was hospitalized and I needed to help out as much as I could with her and for my family, and when I was nearly ready to complete the final stages of my product, I suffered a severe concussion and was unable to leave my house or look at a computer screen. These problems led to a shorter amount of time for me to complete my project, but I persevered and completed my project. I designed the outdoor learning space to accommodate for a class of students and allow them to learn in a shaded area while surrounded by nature. This would allow Etowah High School to start a program to get students outside. I used examples from my research to form the basis of my design. My product is a compilation of the information I gathered through my research.
This senior project used skills that could be used in a myriad of different careers. For instance, I could pursue a career in psychology, environmental studies, landscaping, civil engineering, structural engineering, construction management, drafting, and, architecture. I have learned that no matter what obstacles are in front of me I can do anything that I put my mind to. I have also decided that I would like to pursue a career in architecture. I have been accepted into the School of Architecture at Kennesaw State University in hopes to achieve this dream.
I am thankful for this project because it reassured me that architecture is what I want to do for a career in the future. I have learned a lot about myself and plan on using the skills I have acquired in the future. This has been a great experience and will play a huge part in my growth as a person, student, and, hopefully, architect in the future.