Ask a child what they want to be when they grow up, and you may get answers like a princess, an astronaut, or a cowboy. This is not surprising with the endless number of movies, video games, and toys depicting those characters. A child will only know what or who they can become if they are introduced to it, which is why KEPHART was proud to be a part of the Girl Scouts STEM Career Day at the beginning of October. Not only were we able to show kids the creative and world-changing effects of architecture, but kids were also able to talk with three women building communities daily here at KEPHART.
Kids may not realize they’re using architectural skills when building structures with their Legos or imagining what appliances go where in their Barbie Dreamhouse. KEPHART’s Erin Hylton, Caitlin Kennedy, and Tanya Tillotson all recognized from a young age that they had the potential to change the world through architecture, transforming ideas into reality while enhancing the built environment around them. So, it meant a lot to all three to get a chance to teach families at the Girl Scout STEM Career Day what architecture meant to them when they were younger.
“Architecture can be hard for anyone to grasp, especially a 6-year-old. So, our goal was to teach them that architecture is all around,” said Caitlin. “It gives them a sense of appreciation to know that someone thought this was the best place to put the oven for my chicken nuggets.”
One of the activities KEPHART brought for families was a create-your-own floor plan, where kids had to fit items like tables, couches, and appliances in a floorplan from one of our projects. “One little girl put together a ‘Slumber Party Pad.’ All the beds were in the living room, and the couches were in the bedroom. And there was only a bathtub in the closet. But to her, it was designed to have the best slumber party ever,” said Tanya, explaining one little girl’s exciting floor plan. While not practical, they did what every architect does daily: think about how their design would affect the lives of the people living there.
While the creative juices flowed on paper, families could experience the fantastic work we’ve created throughout our projects. Using Virtual Reality, they could walk through and see layouts from The Finch. It’s one thing to see it on a 2D drawing and another to see it in front of your eyes. “There were a lot of oohs and aahs when they used the VR headset,” said Erin, who led kids through VR courtyards, bedrooms, and penthouses KEPHART designed. “When you’re that young, you haven’t considered renting an apartment. So, this was a first-time experience for some kids, seeing another living space that could potentially be theirs one day.”
Once it clicked for some, they could make a real-life Barbie Dreamhouse; it was like the Lego pieces in their minds came together, understanding what we do at KEPHART daily and for the communities we’re creating. They learned they could use their creativity to build something that looks cool and helps people’s lives. One little girl told Caitlin at the end, “What is architecture without the people?”
While some may still grow up to become astronauts, we hope we taught more about a field that isn’t often the movie’s main character. We want to thank Girl Scouts of Colorado for hosting this event in their new, gorgeous DreamLab space. Through meeting community builders like Erin, Caitlin, and Tanya, we hope more people, especially young women, will pursue careers in STEAM.