Cotsen Library program nurtures young architects

Aug. 9, 2004 12:48 a.m.

The Cotsen Children's Library was filled with the sounds of crashing bricks, falling mortar and crumbling archways, but the noise had nothing to do with the construction around campus.

Eighteen local elementary school students were taking part in the library's "Toy Architecture" course on the history, basic principles and terminology of architecture, which featured many hands-on activities designed to let the children experience the science of building.

The children, ages 9 through 11, transformed wooden blocks and red clay into an archway and used materials such as Lego bricks, Lincoln Logs, toothpicks, marshmallows and Popsicle sticks for projects ranging from birdhouses to commercial building models. To learn how to develop floor plans, the students cut open green peppers and used the cross sections as models. They also used their bodies in a series of exercises to imitate various structural elements, such as flying buttresses, archways, tunnels and cantilevers.

Daniel Blazejewski, 11, an aspiring engineer, enjoyed the workshop. "I'm really good at building things. It's what I like to do, and I'm around people that like it as well," he said. "The best part is the free time, because we get to build stuff."

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Contact: Lauren Robinson-Brown (609) 258-3601