Construction process offers real-life learning opportunities for students

12/07/16 01:02:pm
| Category: Science

Starting last year with the unveiling of the Kotzubei Family Athletics Field, Mirman's athletic facilities expansion has been in full swing. Construction is set to wrap on this project, which includes storage facilities, two basketball courts, twin handball courts, new offices for the Athletics Department, expanded community and play areas, and more, in the spring of 2017. And while crews are hard at work digging, moving, leveling, and building, the Science Department has made good use of all of the expertise and teachable moments that this project is bringing to campus.

Earlier in the fall, for example, students in Room 2M spent time sharpening their observation skills — and their pencils — as they sat and drew pictures of the construction process taking shape right outside their classroom window. Lower School Science Specialist Peter Krejcarek was on hand to help the students recognize and interpret the types of simple machines that combined to make the drills, bulldozers, earth movers and other equipment.

But there's more going on with these projects than meets the eye. Under the surface of the two Moody Hinman and Karney Goldstein Family Basketball Courts, the builders and architects employed best practices in "green building" to create a catchment system for collecting and re-using rainwater. In September, Chief Financial Officer David Royal took students from both Lower and Upper School on a tour of the in-progress project, explaining the resource-efficient and cost-effective process.

The final learning opportunity of the fall semester came when Steve Johnson, of Johnson Favaro, the architectural firm who designed the entire project, came to speak to students about the significance of another important underground component: the pile foundation of the buildings themselves. While students watched footage of the drilling process compiled by Mr. Krejcarek, Mr. Johnson explained the thorough geotechnical engineering process necessitated by notoriously unreliable California soil. "There's an awful lot going on underground to keep the building in place," said Mr. Johnson. "Structural engineers, plumbing engineers, geotechnical engineers...there's a whole team of people coming together to create a working building."