“Discover Architecture” teaches kids about buildings and design

The curriculum, created by volunteers from the American Institute of Architects, for elementary and early middle school students covers engineering and green building

As a creative professional, Melody Harclerode wanted her elementary-age daughter to have something more imaginative to do in the afternoons than play video games. So she set out to produce after-school activities to teach kids about buildings and design. “There are so many activities that involve computers,” she says. “I started talking to the art teacher. I wanted an alternative.”

Photograph courtesy of "Discover Architecture"
Photograph courtesy of “Discover Architecture”

Harclerode, who is president of the Atlanta chapter of the American Institute of Architects, recruited six other AIA volunteers ranging from Jereme Smith, an early-career architect, to John A. Busby Jr., a founder of Jova/Daniels/Busby who helped design Colony Square. The team worked together for more than two years to create “Discover Architecture,” a curriculum for elementary and early middle school students that covers architecture, engineering, green building, and other design fields. Each unit includes hands-on activities such as building models.

More than 300 Atlanta Public Schools students have tested the award-winning program, now available through Amazon (from $49.95). Proceeds support the AIA-sponsored course, which is suitable for classroom or home use. “Whether you live in Alaska or you’re homeschooling in Miami, you can engage your child in architecture,” says Harclerode.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.