My conversation with Pathways High student, Perryon, the last day before the winter break makes me excited for 2019 and the amazing work our students will accomplish! Specifically, Perryon talked to me about why the Pathways High Green Building seminar is his favorite so far and how he and other students were testing their building designs -- prototypes constructed out of newspaper -- to determine how well they could withstand wind and other natural elements. Student groups are also prototyping insulation, engaging in a design challenge to determine which model “home” retains the most heat. Another group is developing a plan and model for a near-zero waste green home, incorporating ideals from LEED, Earthships, and their own creativity. Perryon said he especially enjoys the real world work he’s able to do in this seminar.
Two days after my discussion with Perryon, I toured the Chicago Architectural Center with my family. As we walked past scale models of the largest buildings in the world, I was excited to make the connections between the information displayed on the placards by the models and my conversation with Perryon. Specifically, I was drawn to the model of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, measuring a staggering 2,717 feet (828 meters!) The captions on the wall told the story of the building’s conception and development. I smiled when I saw the architects’ use of the design process* and emphasis on a multi-disciplinary approach as Pathways High students are exposed to these concepts in their seminars, like Green Building and Entrepreneurship. Perryon excelled in the Entrepreneurship seminar, as well. His passions took off as he launched his business, A Helpful Hand, and his business website!
Like all of the young people at Pathways High, Perryon’s talents are many and diverse. For example, I learned from Perryon that he had been teaching fellow students how to salsa dance. He’s been dancing since he was in elementary school. This made me wonder how the foot patterns of dances might be applied to building design, like the lotus flower shape that inspired the Burj Khalifa.
Our discussion and tour reminded me of the concepts described in one of my favorite books, The Medici Effect, by Frans Johansson. Like the world-changing insights and innovations during the Renaissance, breakthrough ideas often occur when people bring concepts from one field into a new, unrelated one. Specifically, the book highlights how breakthrough ideas, ones that propel us from one innovation curve to the next as opposed to incrementally innovating along an existing curve, are most likely to occur when novices “collide” with experts. As experts develop increasing depth of knowledge in their field of study, there is a point where this knowledge actually limits the expert’s ability to achieve breakthrough ideas. However, when novices work alongside experts, the novices often bring a broader lens through which to view problems and possible solutions. At Pathways High, we bring experts to work alongside our students every opportunity we can find. We are inviting architects into the Green Building seminar to both inspire our students and be inspired by them.
At Pathways High, students are soaring to new heights in the Green Building seminar through real world work and interactions with experts. Will you join us?
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