Convent of the Sacred Heart school in Manhattan share fantastic feedback on using Arckit

Convent of the Sacred Heart school in Manhattan share fantastic feedback on using Arckit for Technology and Engineering classes.

Arckit has really taken off this year as an educational tool for STEM initiatives. The National STEM centre in York (UK) now have our products available in their library for teachers and visitors to explore and play with, and we are currently supplying Arckit to many schools around the world. We asked Aubree Stephens, a teacher at New York’s oldest independent school for girls, to talk to us about how her students are using Arckit in their technology and engineering classes – and to suggest ways we can make it even better.

Convent of the Sacred Heart is one of the first schools in the U.S. to use Arckit as part of their curriculum. Founded in 1881 and located on 91st Street, the school is highly regarded for its rich history and known for educating women that positively influence the world by thinking critically, acting with courage and compassion, and manifesting an informed and lively faith. With over 700 students from pre-kindergarten through to grade 12, students typically go on to attend some of the most rigorous and respected colleges in the U.S.

Aubree Stephens explains, “Introduction to Engineering is a course designed to introduce students to technology and engineering, as an initial stride towards becoming technologically literate. Students will gain an understanding of the designed works and the wide range of career paths that a person might take in designing, manufacturing, maintaining and using technologies – covering topics such as the engineering design process, manufacturing, construction and communication technologies.”

The course combines practical real-world connections and hands-on activities to give students the opportunity to see how science, math and engineering are integral parts of their everyday world. This first project of the year was to create the ‘world’s best organizer’ by using technical drawings, conducting market surveys, and designing and constructing prototypes. Other projects include working with the organisation e-NABLE to design and assemble fully functional 3D printed prosthetic hands using a program called Tracker.

So how are the students using Arckit? Well, one of the projects was to introduce students to the concept of urban sprawl. This is designed to teach them how to build load-bearing structures, test building materials and create energy efficient spaces. The final challenge was to build a structurally sound and energy efficient ‘building of the future’. Students are then asked to practice being structural engineers and architects by studying the strength and weakness of construction materials, examining structural forces that affect towers and bridges, and creating thermally efficient spaces.

“As the year progressed, my students began to voice concern that, given space and material constraints, they were not able to produce aesthetically pleasing prototypes. Their products resembled crafts, as opposed to polished models. With the goal of having my students construct a space efficient and energy efficient building, I adamantly searched for an architectural model kit that did not require the use of hot glue guns or woodworking. I stumbled upon Arckit and realized that it was exactly what I was looking for!”

Ms. Stephens says, “Arckit streamlined the building process, affording my students, with little to no experience of constructing scaled models, the opportunity to construct a beautiful finished product. Arckit allowed my students’ ideas to become a reality; not only did they imagine a ‘building of the future’, but they were able to see their ideas come to life.” One student rather accurately describes Arckit as: “Fun, like Lego but more realistic.”

In fact, we had dozens of enthusiastic responses from students, as well as some very useful constructive feedback that is already shaping some of our planned improvements. We are already acting on requests for more beveled edged walls and double beveled edges, to open up even more building options, and have received other requests for different sizes and shapes of floor pieces so students can make circular or trapezoidal buildings. We really value this feedback and are already busy designing new components.

It is wonderful to hear such positive reviews of Arckit, and hear how it is being used in education to teach practical skills. We believe that Arckit can be used to transform the way schools teach STEM – offering students a practical way to physically explore structures and apply ‘real world’ skills in a fun and creative way. So what did the students think?

We asked students what they thought about using Arckit. Here’s what they said:

“I loved using an Arckit because it has so many incredible features some of which include all the little Lego-like pieces. In engineering we often design structures out of straw or tape, but using lifelike materials and creating scale products was extremely exciting. Moreover, I loved how simple the pieces were; which allowed us to come up with our own ideas.”

“I just enjoyed being able to see my design come to life – it is much easier to see everything when it is 3 dimensional. As for the little things, I loved being able to add patterns to the floor, roof or walls. I also enjoyed the little pieces for a balcony or the like (though my design does not include one).”

“I like how flexible everything can be, in the sense that you don’t have to use one piece in any certain way. I also like that you are able to build in any way using the different parts given.”

“When building there is room for a lot of personalization and it is easy to build what you want without severe limitations. After it’s done, it looks professional and doesn’t look like something that was made in five minutes and could easily fall apart. The textures also allow the model to more closely resemble what you want it to. It is also very simple to build.”

“I like that Arckit allows us to create our ideas into scale models, and that we have the ability to take them apart and make changes. I like how Arckit also gives us different options when creating walls, and we are able to create any type of structure we want.”

“I like the option of clear walls (we used a lot of them because they are great for retail space walls, and having all-glass walls is good for obtaining sunlight if using a passive solar heating system). I also like that the kit has the exact amount of floor space 650 sq.ft, so no matter what layout I design, I will be within the space limit of our project guidelines (which requires a maximum of 650 sq.ft). I also like the ‘arckitexture’ component – the paper is adhesive, which is helpful, and it creates a sleek look.”

“I really enjoyed using Arckit as opposed to making our designs ‘free hand’ (like out of cardboard or foam core) because it produces a clean and professional product. It also feels like a real small-scale construction site. I can imagine this kit being a useful tool for architects when planning out their buildings. I find that communicating my ideas about construction through words can be difficult, but with Arckit I can apply my ideas to my design and see the results in 3D form immediately.”

And here’s a selection of the finished models:

Now it’s your turn. Are you a teacher or student using Arckit? Would you school be interested in using Arckit? We would really like to hear from you. Leave your comments below or email