Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School
Students use Revit Architecture software and win a national award for their efforts.
"When we were in Washington, DC, the first time we competed, we got the sense that everyone was looking for sustainable solutions. So this year, when we decided to return, we did research on the topic. We included as many renewable energy systems as we could and recognized that using Revit Architecture would be the key to success for our architectural design."
—Jennifer Caffrey, Technology Education Teacher, Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School
Located in the historic district of Old Lyme, Connecticut, Lyme–Old Lyme Middle School (LOLMS) serves 372 students in grades 6–8. The school strives to provide rigorous and appropriate academic challenges as well as appropriate social opportunities. The school and the teachers work with parents and the community to maximize each student’s potential as a lifelong learner and caring, responsible citizen.
Jennifer Caffrey, the technology education teacher at LOLMS, is a true supporter of maximizing her students’ potential. She saw an opportunity to teach her students about green building technology and architectural design using Revit® Architecture software. Caffrey met weekly with interested students for four months to create a futuristic model of a middle school, which ultimately won the national 2008 School of the Future student design competition, held in Washington, DC.
When Caffrey got her associate’s degree in architecture, she learned to sketch in AutoCAD® software. By the time she became a teacher, building information modeling (BIM) had become the norm. Since the school already owns a site license of Revit Architecture, she created a curriculum based on the software. She learned the software along with her students, and quickly realized it was easy to learn and easy to use.
“When we were in Washington, DC, the first time we competed, we got the sense that everyone was looking for sustainable solutions,” says Caffrey. “So this year, when we decided to return, we did research on the topic. We included as many renewable energy systems as we could and recognized that using Revit Architecture would be the key to success for our architectural design.”
“I find the kids don’t rely on 2D drawings as much as they do on 3D,” says Caffrey. “If they see a 3D model at an angle, it makes more sense to them.” According to Caffrey, her student Ally McCarthy consulted the 3D model built in Revit to help her with the construction of the miniature model of the future school.
Caffrey’s middle-school students working on the project—Hallie Hallman, Emily Powers, Ally McCarthy, and Alex Kashtan—spent four months researching the best ways to design an ideal classroom environment that would help students get the most from their educational experience, while keeping the environment in mind.
Their design includes a main office, a guidance nurse center, classrooms, an auditorium, a gymnasium, a unified arts department, a library media center, a cafeteria, a recycling center, rooftop gardens, and an experience room.
The students used Revit Architecture software to plan the design and consulted websites such as energyhog.org to learn about saving energy through efficient building design. Their design showcases four major renewable energy sources, including solar, hydro, geothermal, and wind-powered systems, and also incorporates recycling, composting, and rooftop gardens.
One of the students’ favorite ideas for their model was the “Experience Room.” This futuristic virtual reality room enables the students to be immersed into any environment. For example, if a class was studying the rain forest they could enter the room and be surrounded by four walls that project the rain forest in 3D. The room would also have sounds and smells from the chosen environment.
By using Revit Architecture software, the students were able to plan their design while learning the concept of scale. “Being able to put furniture inside their rooms, and being able to toggle between 3D view and plan view in Revit Architecture, helped them understand the spatial relationships between the size of a room and the objects within it,” says Caffrey.
Caffrey and her students entered their work in the national School of the Future student design competition, held in Washington, DC, and sponsored by the CEFPI (Council of Educational Facility Planners International) Foundation and Charitable Trust, spotlighting connections between schools and their effect on student learning.
To enter the design competition, the students were required to create floor plans, an 800-word narrative, a 12-15 minute PowerPoint® presentation, and a model of their design. Mentored by a local architecture firm, Centerbrook Architects, the students met with Russell Learned, who instructed them on green concepts, lighting, general design, and, most important, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™. Russell also organized a practice presentation with members of his firm so the students were well prepared for their presentation in D.C.
Caffrey’s students’ dedication and enthusiasm for the project paid off in the end when they presented to the jury on April 30, 2008. The jury, comprising 18 architects, facility planners, and other related professionals from around the country, agreed that Caffrey’s students’ vision was a cut above the nearly 1,500 entries received in the 2008 School of the Future student design competition.
As a result of winning the School of the Future design competition on the national level, the students were presented with $2,000 and invited to the U.S. Green Building Council’s conference in Boston, in November 2008.