The Kids are Back in School, How ‘Bout You?

Jerry Eben, FAIA has been speaking to children about architecture for over 30 years now, estimating that he has reached over 10 thousand children with valuable information about our profession. Recently, he has started teaming up with fellow architect Jose Gennaro, AIA to provide bi-lingual programs, especially in schools with large Spanish speaking/ ESL populations.

Jose made his first presentation about 12 years ago when a teacher friend asked him to present at her Perth Amboy school career day. Many of his early programs were geared toward showing young immigrant students what opportunities for success are attainable, with focus and commitment.

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The majority of their partnered sessions are requested in the spring by schools that feature career discussions, but they try and respond to all requests, year-round. They travel most anywhere that they are asked, but most often find themselves in Harrison, Newark, Perth Amboy and the surrounds. If they are not available to attend themselves, will seek out a willing AIA colleague from the school’s local community.

 

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Jose likes sharing his trade best with 3rd-5th graders, while Jerry finds 6th-8th grade most rewarding, but they have presented to all ages, K-12! Most presentations are about 20-30 minutes, with renderings, perspectives, blueprints and photographs circulating around the room.

AIA Newark and Suburban has also provided giveaway items, such as pencils, with the section name embossed on the side.

 

The kids especially love to check out traditional drafting tools and hear about the transition from drawing by hand to CAD.
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The architects share ideas on the best classes to take in high school to prepare for applying for an architecture degree in college, the basic process of licensure, what a day is like in an architectural firm and other career statistics. They discuss building types and what it’s like to run a project.
But even more important than encouraging kids to become architects, the men seek to enlighten the kids on being aware of the buildings in their own communities, respecting their environments, and understanding the value of good design.
Jerry and Jose are cultivating your next generation of educated clients! 
Jerry always tries to get the kids engaged in building human flying buttresses with two tall children & two small children. When he asks where they have seen this around the neighborhood, he always gets a correct answer from a few: “The church around the corner!” He recommends that everyone “LOOK UP” and see the architecture they interact with every day.
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The program is so well received that most schools ask them back year after year.  They have received pictures and thank you notes from the kids.
Jerry recommends the book EXPERIENCING ARCHITECTURE by Steen Eiler Rasmusson and would love to encourage all AIA NJ members to order a few copies from Amazon to offer each school as a leave behind, to extend the lesson beyond their short talk.
Jose suggests the AIA NJ Guidebook to 150 BEST Buildings and Places as a great resource for local kids to find interesting architecture, no matter where they live.
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Both encourage YOU to contact your local school and offer to come in and share your profession with the students. Architects are naturals at presenting, and the conversation requires nothing more than your regular, off the cuff, knowledge.
For more resources and recommendations, look for the next installment of “The Kids are Back in School, How ‘Bout You?” in a future AIA NJ article.
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