Learning By Design: Novembridge!
November 6, 2013

Learning By Design in Massachusetts is a K-12 architecture and design education organization, which started as a program of the Boston Society of Architects and then became its own nonprofit. It works a lot with schools, but it also offers family programs with hands-on, real world angles.

The organization encourages children and adults to observe, explore and design together. Families are introduced to architecture and design through exhibit tours, walking tours, or slide shows, and then complete a hands-on design activity.

Two upcoming Family Design Days—one on November 9 and one on November 16—are focused on celebrating bridges. First up is a free family tour this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Civil engineer Reed Brockman will lead a two-hour tour of the bridges of Fort Point Channel, where you can find bridges that slide, swing, and swivel. Attendees are advised to dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes. Reed will continue on to the Zakim Bridge for the adventurous.

The following Saturday, November 16, there’s a two-hour program focused on building bridges. Families will learn about the many bridge types spanning the city’s waterways, then design and build their own bridge using recycled materials. The program runs 10:30 to 12:30 and is $8 per person. Pre-registration for both events is required. Visit the Learning By Design website for details.

Learning By Design offers some tips for parents of kids who might be interested in architecture.

  • Provide access to books about houses and homes, places and spaces, buildings and structures; and provide building toys — the kind you buy, plus “found” materials (anything from paper towel rolls to moving boxes).
  • Share your kids’ enthusiasm: encourage them to observe, draw and photograph interesting places, spaces and buildings; and encourage them to develop and draw their own design ideas.
  • For older children, you could first provide a simple set of drafting tools: a drafting board, T square, triangles, scale templates, graph and tracing paper, a pencil and a good eraser. Have them try building scale models from materials like small, plain boxes, oaktag or cardboard or foam core.
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