Contributed by Lower School Science and Research and Design Teacher Eileen Fennelly

Fifth Grade Research and Design was on the road again this week. Our architecture and interior design groups connected to visit Brock Built Homes at their Design Center and to visit their new development, Westside Station. This particular group began the year with individual project ideas. As the class has progressed they realized that they would need to collaborate and communicate with each other, and they were going to need some external experts.

Mount Vernon Parent and Brock Built President and CFO, Michael Schweninger, rolled out a red carpet welcome for our students. 

We began our visit in the design studio to learn about how a home buyer might choose all of the interior aspects to their home from flooring to cabinet accessories. The students asked great questions about how a designer has to learn to listen to their clients needs and not just design what they want. The Brock Built team enjoyed the students early understanding of empathy and communication.

Mr. Schweninger explained how when you are a home builder you are not just building homes but a community.  He graciously shared his plans and maps of the Westside Station project. Brock Built embraced the location by the railroad and incorporated design aspects of a rail yard into their new community.

Our students were welcomed into a model home at the site, a home under construction, and they were able to see the amenities that help to bring a community together. Our students wondered, “How many iterations of the community plan are there as you build? How do you make community spaces in a neighborhood? Does it matter if the homes have a garage in the front or in the back? How do you build a house to maximize the amount of natural light in the home?”

The onsite tour sparked our group to collaborate on their projects going forward. They are designing their own community, building on the aspects they observed at Brock Built. They used a familiar thinking routine – I like, I wish, I wonder – to reflect on the visit and plan their next steps in creating a new community.

Thank you to Mr. Schweninger for sharing his time and talents with our students.  These real world connections have a great impact on our future innovators and designers.

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