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Construction Management service-learning project helps elementary students

May 18, 2012

This spring, CSU construction management graduate students enrolled in the course Applied Sustainable Project Delivery offered by Construction Management faculty members Caroline Clevenger and Mehmet Ozbek, in collaboration with high school students at Centennial High School, successfully built 12 xylophone music stands for elementary school students at Bennett Elementary.

Three generations of students celebrating the delivery of music stands to Bennett Elementary School in May. The music stands were sustainably constructed by construction management graduate students in collaboration with Centennial High School students.Bennett Elementary requested these stands from the department through the CM Cares initiative, where construction management students provide service as part of their learning to address community needs. Previously the music department and parent organization at Bennett had conducted a fundraiser supported by Bennett families for the purchase of new musical instruments. These instruments, however, were placed on the floor. Students had to sit on the floor to play them, which causes ergonomic and teaching challenges.

Sustainable stands

CSU graduate students, with support from unless design collaborative, designed the stands, which raise the instruments to the proper playing height (adjustable for different instruments), provide storage to protect the instruments, as well as converting into sheet music holders and performance display stands.

CSU students worked tirelessly with CHS students in their building trades shop to build the stands over the course of eight weeks. CSU students used this opportunity not only to teach construction skills, but also to impart sustainable building principles to the high school students through formal teaching moments and by example.

The sustainable features of the stands include the use of non-toxic materials, salvaged wood, beetle-killed pine, home-made coffee stain, and recycled screws. CHS students weren’t the only ones to learn about sustainability by completing the construction project. As one CSU student stated, “In a classroom, it is easy to understand the importance of sustainability and assume that it is easy to incorporate these concepts into projects. This experience has opened my eyes to the challenges in applying sustainability factors to a real-world [construction] project with labor, budget and schedule constraints.”

Meaningful experience

The experience of helping the community was meaningful for all participants. As one CHS student said of the experience, “It was great to build something that helps someone else and gives our school good publicity.”

The music stands were unveiled at CSU’s Earth Day Fair on April 18 on the Lory Student Center plaza. The stands were then delivered to Bennett Elementary and presented at a school assembly on May 4. Three generations of student collaborators were present to celebrate the project: third grade musicians, high school builders, and university graduate student project managers.

Clevenger and Ozbek like to consider themselves the fourth generation of students who benefited from the class in their role as class instructors and facilitators. Service-learning is an unscripted, experiential learning model that teaches everyone involved something, and in this case, lessons about sustainability, construction and community.

Contact: Mehmet Ozbek
Phone: (970) 491-4101