What happens when the experiential process changes a child’s life path? Everyone WINS!
Arguably, the most effective approach to learning in the classroom is experiential. Providing students with an opportunity for hands-on learning and reflection is the key to instructional success, but what happens when the experiential process changes a child’s life path? Everyone WINS! The 2020 school year was a decisive win for the civil engineering program at Kennesaw Mountain High School.
Through a cooperative program with Pitts-Fowler Enterprises in Acworth, GA, civil engineering students at Kennesaw Mountain were challenged with developing and designing a new education building infrastructure in the Liberian city of Fortsville. The specific challenge was to design multi-purpose structures that could be used in educating and sheltering families in Fortville. The structures’ design had to consider the agrarian economy of the region as well as incorporate recreational and service features, such as healthcare, that would also address the residents’ physical and emotional health in an area ravaged by more than thirty-five years of civil war.
Marcellus Pitts, an avid supporter of the Kennesaw Mountain civil engineering program and the principal associate of Pitts-Fowler Enterprises, was instrumental in providing the Kennesaw Mountain students with access to building code guidelines and utilities schematics in Fortsville and Dr. Lionel S. Brownell with Go Ye Ministries Liberia USA, Inc., an organization focused on providing educational services in Liberia, provided the engineering students insight to the difficulties and hardships residents of Fortsville were facing. Dr. Brownell also introduced the children in Fortville to the Kennesaw Mountain students during a virtual meeting so they could get a better sense of who they were designing for. The Kennesaw Mountain engineering students ultimately developed a communal building concept that provided families with access to cafeteria and bathroom facilities within an industrial compound design.
In the 2021 school year, the civil engineering students will begin designing aquafer systems for agriculture development around the compound, work with architects and engineers in Liberia to complete land surveys, finalize architecture and furniture designs for the classrooms and dwelling areas, and collaborate with IT professionals to develop a technology infrastructure. Cristi Holbrook, the Kennesaw Mountain High School Civil Engineering Program teacher, said “the program offers the students an opportunity to experience real world skill applications, connect education to industry, compete for college scholarships and internships, and build charitable hearts by giving back to others.” Mrs. Holbrook emphasized, “the construction of education and community facilities in Fortville will play an integral role in ensuring the future of many generations of Liberians to come. Access to education and safe dwellings will enhance the standard of living in Fortsville and provide a platform for self-sufficiency that will allow the community to thrive.”
Arthur O’Neill, Supervisor
Career • Technology • Agriculture Education