How did 19 High School Students Design a 60-Floor, Mixed-Use Tower in Center City, Philly?
And how was it one of the “Most Innovative Hands-on Projects,” as recognized by the White House’s US2020 STEM Mentoring Awards Program?
Certainly, support from the students’ personal lives, accessibility through the ACE Mentor Program, and seven A/E/C professionals dedicating their free time to engage young minds helped. Half a year of team-building with hands-on exercises, interactive brainstorm sessions, extensive guidance on technical process, and successfully unleashing the creative prowess within the high school seniors paved the way to the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
An exercise in structural engineering — using only popsicle sticks and marshmallows.
The recognized project, Comcast Tower II (Re-imagined), was the brainchild of 19 students (“ACE Team 6”) from G.W. Carver High School of Engineering & Science in North Philadelphia. During 15 sessions over the course of six months, mentors from KSS, Gilbane, Keast & Hood, and Schrader Group exposed students to a broad spectrum of design-related issues.
One session required competitive and creative (and balanced) building of models, using only popsicle sticks and marshmallows. Another week aimed to familiarize students with the process of producing interior finish board collages. Another, learning about the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED checklist, and applying LEED principles to sustainable building design. With hands-on methods, the team of students contributed to group discussions and the mentors synthesized input into one collective voice.