On February 11, the USGBC South Carolina Low Country Branch participated in the fourth annual Charleston STEM Fest 2017, an outdoor celebration of science, technology, engineering and math. Our booth was located right on the river on a beautiful 70-degree day. The group started setting up around 9 a.m., and by 10, the kids were flocking around the booth with excited faces.
Engaging the community
At this festival, our goal was to interact with students and engage them in activities about how to be green. In addition, being an exhibitor not only gave the organization exposure, but also the an opportunity to network with other exhibitors/vendors that have a presence in Charleston that may seek to know more about USGBC. We hoped to reach students, faculty members, school board members and other leaders of the Charleston community.
Sketching out green homes
USGBC volunteers Joe, Jacquayle, Jennifer and Greg assisted the children in modeling a basic house with a door, windows and a gable roof. They acquainted parents with the sketch-up software and other computer modeling software that is all free. With up to 200 students participating, the eclectic neighborhood that came to life expressed unique color palettes, and a variety of structures from modest to ambitiously soaring.
After the volunteers highlighted the basic geometric functions to the children, most were quick learners and were excited to explore their new tech-savvy hobby at home. After each child modeled their dream home in sketch-up, volunteers would assist in creating an overhang in front of a few windows. They would demonstrate the shadow cast by the new addition to their structure and open an adjacent window with a model that demonstrated an energy efficiency profile.
The energy-efficient model, adorned with a heat-color-coded response, stirred curiosity in the children. The volunteers explained that the shading device modeled above their windows allowed for a cooler response from the building toward its environment. Adjacent trees in the energy model were pointed out, and the USGBC volunteers explained how the leaves create shade in the hot months of the year and then fall to create more opportunity for light in the colder months.
Encouraging enthusiasm for STEM
The volunteer team was as enthusiastic about the day as the participants. Jennifer described her experience:
As a USGBC South Carolina volunteer, I am absolutely thrilled we were able to attend the Charleston STEM fest 2017. We could not have asked for a more beautiful day. With an abundant and vivacious group of exhibitors, I felt personally encouraged by the surrounding network of professionals, who are passionate about creating games to facilitate the interest of the next generation in science, engineering, math and technology.
The children and parents came out with overwhelming interest. The kids were patient and quick learners who were all extremely engaged. It was a great success, and I look forward to volunteering again in the future. Shout-out to an amazing volunteer group!