This is where you say: Oh, of course, a trailer full of artists, musicians, and writers would totally go bonkers for engineering and architecture, right?
Wow, that was sarcastic! Wink wink.
Let’s begin a super-short version of a long, tortuous tale. Before Steve was a full-time musician, he was a real estate appraiser, and before he was an appraiser he was pre-med, and before he was pre-med, he was a music major, and before he was a music major, he was a house flipper, designer, constructor, and general house maker, or builder I guess you would call it. In fact, he designed and built the home we lived in and left when we headed out on the road full-time. He has a long history with homes, and not just living in them.
As for me, I once built a birdhouse that got a fourth place ribbon (out of four) at the county fair. (Pause for effect.)
Not only that, we have hopes of someday building a house for our family when we’re not on the road, either on the extended family’s land or on land of our own–we don’t have land of our own, but something special could fall in our laps, right? Of course, right.
Put all that together and you have a family who is very interested in designing homes, understanding how far we can push the boundaries in building a kitchen, and how to fit twelve Christmas trees, seven pianos, 22 stringed instruments, 9472 books, and a large dog in one space while still maintaining structural stability and a decent traffic flow. (You only think that’s impossible because you aren’t thinking like an architect.)
So you see, we’re highly interested in architecture and how it applies to us on a personal level. We are not, however, interested in architecture as a career…so far.
That’s important to know for this review.
Let’s get down to business. (Admit it–you just sang, “and defeat the Huns.”)
What is Thinking Like an Architect?
Thinking Like an Architect is a self-paced online architecture course led by “Mr. K” that introduces the student to the field of architecture, initially in a more scholarly way, but, as the course progresses, in a more practical, hands-on manner. The goal is to guide the student to problem-solve while studying architecture.
Each lesson includes videos/slide shows, assignments, and further study. All told, the course totals roughly 30 hours of class time, give or take five months as your student designs their dream home on the included CAD software. It could easily be stretched into a longer course as your student digs deeper and does further research.
In the end, your student will have designed an architecturally sound 3-D home (or other building, if they prefer) on CAD software, which is included with the cost of the course, making the course an incredible value. Your student can print out the 3-D home and assemble it according to the instructions included with the course.
(I say architecturally sound, because they will be using techniques they used in the course. They will not be ready to design an entire home and build it without a real architect on hand after 30 hours of study.)
Other projects your child will do include making a two-dimensional blueprint of the floor plan he or she designs, researching architects, and making a PowerPoint presentation on an architect.
Are you thinking, “Holy smokes! Architecture and engineering are complex subjects. I’m a preschool teacher–I can’t help with architecture!” Silly you! You don’t have to help. There is a full year of online support offered for each course. The support staff is quick, courteous, and very helpful. Chances are your student will end up chatting with Mr. K. himself! Three cheers!
If this is a first-time self-study course for your child, you might be interested in the printable unit journal that your child can use to make sure she is understanding and completing everything.
The grades for the class range from sixth to twelfth. I know my sixth grader could handle this, because he’s adept at math and science/tech topics, but I would have probably choked here or there on some math that young. You know your child better than I do–obviously.
Emily is our ninth grader. She studied the course on her own. Now remember, Emily is not interested in architecture as a career, but merely wants to learn the basics of home design and stretch her brain. Therefore, she watched all the videos, but did not do any further study or the extra projects that did not involve designing her house. Those were her instructions from her parents, by the way–she’s not a cheater cheater pumpkin eater.
After five weeks, she is currently learning how to use the software, which is the final unit of the class, apart from printing. You all know how I feel about printing–hives! Needless to say, when Emily finishes her 3-D design, we’ll all look at it on the computer. What?! We’re saving trees! Wink wink.
Emily did not have trouble with the math aspects of the course. At first she didn’t understand it, but a second viewing cleared things up. She is currently nearing the end of algebra I and was prepared for whatever she encountered. In fact, Emily has been perfectly competent and didn’t need one speck of help from me.
While Emily doesn’t necessarily have an interest in the field, she enjoyed what she learned in the class. The jury is still out on whether or not the house she designs will withstand whatever this family of 10 throws at it!
My personal thoughts
Personally, I think if your child needs a science credit (this would serve as 1/4 credit for the 30 hours) and is remotely interested in architecture, this is an excellent option. Also, being forced to make a presentation in Power Point is a skill that might come in handy in the real world, unless PP is extinct by then, which could happen, too. Blasted technology advances. Wink.
I like that the course links to videos for further learning. I also like that the course videos are short. Since Emily didn’t replace her regular science with this, but added it in on top of her regular workload, long videos would have been tedious and hard to work in.
The presenter made the class fun without being too goofy. My kids hate it when someone tries to be funny and isn’t–we’re not slapstick people here, except for a couple of us who shall remain unnamed but who laugh too hard at The Three Stooges. Suffice it to say, Mr. K. is not a stooge.
The materials needed are either included in the course (printables and software) or readily accessible and not too expensive. I really appreciate that. While a T-square is a required tool, Mr. K. shows you how you can make your own, saving money and adding another element of accomplishment to the course.
What about Thinking Like an Engineer?
I need to take a moment to tell you about Thinking Like an Engineer . I am not scientifically- or engineerically-minded at all, but I was fascinated with the scope and sequence of this course. Using included 3D CAD software, your student will design a roller coaster, bridge and Rube Goldberg machine.
More than that, however, they will solve unique challenges along the way that looked like a recipe for some fun family nights! Even if your intention is not entering the field of engineering, the problem solving and brain stretching throughout the curriculum are excellent. Check it out right here. (I did not review this course. It’s just my impression.)
To find out what other homeschoolers think, check it out right here or on the box below. I really want to get out of here and go see if Emily is designing my kitchen properly–double ovens, girl!