2013-05-03 / Front Page

work zone

Students receive construction education
By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


Todd Jepson, Scarborough School District’s director of buildings, grounds and maintenance, speaks to Wentworth Intermediate School students about the geothermal and underground work that is being done at the school construction site. Students spent part of Friday touring the site and learning more about the new school, which is expected to open in fall 2014. (Michael Kelley photo) Todd Jepson, Scarborough School District’s director of buildings, grounds and maintenance, speaks to Wentworth Intermediate School students about the geothermal and underground work that is being done at the school construction site. Students spent part of Friday touring the site and learning more about the new school, which is expected to open in fall 2014. (Michael Kelley photo) For months students at Wentworth Intermediate School have watched the progress of a new Wentworth school out their classroom windows.

On Friday, April 26, students got an opportunity to see the construction scene up close and personal through a schoolwide Construction Day.

“Prior to Friday, I don’t think the students knew exactly what was going on around them. Our goal with this was to bring the construction project to them,” said Wentworth Principal Anne Mayre Dexter.

Throughout the day, the school’s thirdfourth and fifth-grade students were given a 3D tour of the school from Dan Cecil and Tony Dow, representatives from Harriman, the architecture and engineering firm that designed the school. Students also visited three stops on a tour of the construction site to get a first-hand look at the construction process.


Dan Cecil, principal architect with Harriman, left, shows a group of Wentworth Intermediate School students a 3D model of the new school that is being constructed mere feet from the existing one, as building Principal Anne Mayre Dexter looks on. (Michael Kelley photo) Dan Cecil, principal architect with Harriman, left, shows a group of Wentworth Intermediate School students a 3D model of the new school that is being constructed mere feet from the existing one, as building Principal Anne Mayre Dexter looks on. (Michael Kelley photo) Cecil, a principal architect with Harriman, said this has not been done with students from other school districts he has worked with.

“This is very unique. It’s wonderful that the school district has recognized this is a one in a generation or twice in a generation type of thing. They are taking this as an opportunity to teach the kids a whole bunch of things,” Cecil said prior to leading a group of students through a 3D tour of the new school.

During the tour of the construction site, students learned where the future classrooms and education spaces will be located, as well as about the utility and geothermal wells work underneath the ground, how the school is being constructed and the safety elements that are in place to make sure the construction is safe.

“We are trying to weave education into this project as much as we can,” said Todd Jepson, Scarborough School District’s director of buildings, grounds and maintenance, who led a discussion on underground work with the students.

Dexter said the reason for holding the construction day was not “simply to take care of their curiosity of what is going on around them, but to ignite that spark in them” and show there are career and learning opportunities throughout the construction process.

Throughout the year teachers have found ways to incorporate what was going on with construction outside into lessons taught in the classrooms, particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.

“The teachers have been really resourceful in creating lesson plans around things they can look out their window and see happening,” Cecil said.

Recently a group of fourth-grade students worked to create 3D models of the school out of cereal boxes.

Print-outs of the school were then attached to the boxes and students used their electricity know-how to illuminate their models.

Another group of students, Dexter said, used the school construction project to inspire them in designing and creating a large shed that could eventually be housed at the new school.

Dexter said there have also been connections made in the science and math classrooms as well.

“We are not just constructing a school, we are bringing lessons into the classroom and showing to Scarborough citizens this is more than just bricks and mortar. This is about education,” Dexter said.

Phil LaClaire, who is representing the school district throughout the construction process, said holding an event like last Friday’s and incorporating construction into the classroom, keeps students interested in what is happening outside their classroom windows.

“I think it keeps them interested in the building they will get to enjoy,” said LaClaire, who spoke to the students about heated floors in the classrooms, steel work and building materials. “They realize things need to be built by someone and they have to be thought out and constructed with a lot of hard work.”

Being able to see something like this first-hand, LaClaire said is a unique opportunity for students.

“Hopefully it will give them an appreciation of what they have,” he said. “They are blessed to have such a nice school in Scarborough to learn in.”

“I think it is great they have an opportunity to see things under construction and get into a few construction details,” said Frank Verhoorn, who has been contracted by Harriman to serve as the project’s clerk of the works.

“They are just youngsters, so they are not going to understand everything, but it is good for them to be aware of some of the aspects of the construction around them,” added Verhoorn, who taught the students about safety in the workplace and the measures taken to ensure the process is done with care.

Dexter said she was impressed with how enthusiastic students were in learning more about the project during last Friday’s Construction Day.

After taking part in the 3D model presentation and the three stops on the construction site tour, students were asked to reflect on what they learned and what they wanted to learn more about.

“I am so pleased with the level of detail the children retained,” Dexter said. “There was a lot for them to take in during the event, while still doing their regular school work.”

Dexter said she would like to have another event in the future and continue to engage the students in the construction project before it wraps up and the new school is opened in fall 2014.

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