June 27, 2011
All In – Day Five at Taliesin
We had a beautiful moment in our project today. After a few days of guided exploring and 3D sketch-building the students finally started to create real prototypes for the structure they've come here to create.
We learned a few key things about the constraints for our design from our research and requirements gathering:
It must be in an area with cell phone reception
It must keep out the bugs (mosquitos!), rain and sun, and withstand high winds
It should be private enough for a phone conversation and public enough to hold a small group of 2-3 people
It must be portable or easily broken down
We started by laying out plans for the structure on our newly established site. Everyone was hesitant to make decisions and get into the activity at first. Finally someone picked up a 1×2 and started zip tying it to another piece of lumber. The whole team fell into place. We all followed each others’ moves, quickly working together to build a sketch of the still-to-come concept.
We worked the rest of the day to turn our 3D sketched plans into reality. We measured and laid the framework for the decking and worked past sunset into the darkness of the night to lay the tongue and groove flooring on top of our frame. The whole team moved in a single direction with each of our six students performing a micro-task that fed into the whole. A rhythm developed out of their work: lay down a plank, mallet it into place, drill the holes, screw it in, next! Observing the whole scene was like watching an orchestra of design- and power tool-driven passion.
We’ve been so lucky with this phenomenal group of students. They instantly clicked with each other on our very first day driving to Taliesin, and that bond translates to all the work we’ve done in the field these past few days.
If we had been inside a classroom it would have taken weeks for Alex and I to teach our students to understand the rhythm and cadence of a project. It’s not a cut and dry lesson — they have to experience it completely see the value. Being here in the woods in a fast-paced, hands-on learning environment has forced them to learn about the nuances of teamwork quickly. I’m glad they discovered it and made it work so well.