Edible designs introduce students to architecture



The Alex Foundation recently hosted its STE+AM Initiative at Drew Central Middle School to introduce eighth grade students to key ways science, technology, engineering, art and math are aligned to an architectural career.

Design utilizing marshmallows and gumdrops
Design utilizing marshmallows and gumdrops

Intended to also raise awareness among students and educators on the interdisciplinary connections that link technical and creative skills with architecture, students were guided through understanding the applications of basic concepts of necessity, proportions, scale, physics and aesthetics in the design process.


Using STE+AM, students flipped their regular classroom into a makerspace. The students were tasked with being strategic designers and builders of a structural system (bridge, frame, diagrid and cantilever) using toothpicks, marshmallows and gum drops. They were shown how architects use digital fabrication tools to increase the performance and construction assembly on buildings. The students built a house they designed using digitally fabricated panels. With this, students took control of their own education to become engaged in deeper levels of learning through hands-on engagement, a tenet of the Makerspace credo.

Alison Turner, professor of architecture at the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas was the instructor for the Alex Foundation’s STE+AM Initiative. STE+AM was held in Jessica Forrest’s classroom at Drew Central Middle School.

Funded by the Windgate Charitable Foundation, STE+AM offers an opportunity to directly immerse and mentor students in the design and built environments and connect an architecture professor with students for real-time experiential learning.

About the Alex Foundation
The Alex Foundation, a 501 (C) 3 nonprofit organization mission is to engage, engender and enlighten students to become exposed to college, careers and entrepreneurial opportunities in architecture, design and the built environment. The Foundation’s efforts are collaborated through a multiple intelligence approach that includes cooperative learning, experiential learning, project-based learning and multidisciplinary learning. For more information, visit alex-foundation.org.


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