Collaboration Between Built Environment Majors

The weekend of September 8 and 9 started out stormy and rainy for the Black Swamp Arts Festival, but that didn’t keep families away. In spite of the rain, the Kiwanis Youth Arts Village was prepared to help children of all ages have a fun learning experience. 

While there were many activities to choose—from making paper hats to poetry—the sound of pounding hammers was a big draw at the Kid’s Construction tent. The sixty by twenty-foot tent had over a thousand kids come through over two days. 

Three years ago Heidi Reger, adjunct instructor in architecture, along with her husband, Matt Reger, chair of the Youth Arts Committee, created the kid’s construction activity as a way for children to learn about designing and building their own designs. It was also created to get students in the architecture, construction management, and interior design programs at BGSU involved in the community to develop their skills and learn to enjoy volunteering. 

From the beginning Lisa Schaller, instructor in construction management, jumped in and asked her students to get involved. She has been instrumental in setting up all of the tools and equipment needed and keeping the ship running.

Planning for the event starts months in advance and feedback from parents, kids, and students are taken into consideration. Every year the process gets evaluated and streamlined to keep the kids and students engaged and the parents happy.  

The first year over 500 kids participated. The following year it was over 800 and this year we had over 1,000. It continues to grow both with participation from kids visiting the festival and students volunteering to help. There were over 100 volunteers who made the Kid’s Construction tent come alive.

Most of the students volunteering came from CONS 2350 and ARCH 2360. There was also a lot of help from upper classmen who retrieved and delivered wood and supplies from storage. Many of them worked all day to insure that there was enough help and supplies for everyone. Members of the student organizations Student Construction Management Association, American Institute of Architecture Students, and American Society of Interior Design were on hand to help promote the work of BGSU to the community. 

Some students were reluctant to volunteer and work with kids, but after their shift they declared that is was a lot more fun than they expected. The kids were excited because they were able to use tools and make something out of blocks of wood. The parents had good things to say about the activities despite the long wait at times. A few children went home and were inspired to keep creating. Hearing comments like this makes all the hard work and preparation well worth it.