“OMG, wooooooow, that is soooooooo cool!” (the wow lasted a long 4-5 seconds).
That’s when we knew we had them.
Barb Rose-Leigh (RoseLeigh Design) and I heard that exclamation over and over again as we taught 3 workshops this March for the non-profit organization, Expanding Your Horizons, “inspiring girls to recognize their potential and pursue opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.” As much as I’d like to think it was because Barb and I were down right fantastic teachers I can humbly say it was not. Rather it was because of WHAT we were teaching these girls, ages 11-14. We were teaching SketchUp – “3D for everyone”. SketchUp is a pervasive 3D modeling tool for architects. But it reaches far beyond the field of architecture as well.
It’s simple to use and it’s free!
The only limitation is your own creativity. It’s so easy that an 11 year girl can pick it up in a 50 minute workshop and leave saying “I can’t wait to download this on my computer once I get home.”
Barb and I soon noticed that the “OMG!” came at the same point every time – it was like clockwork – each time we introduced the “push/tool.” First we taught the girls how to draw a rectangle and then using the push/pull tool they stretched the face of that rectangle up creating an instantaneous 3D object that they were able to fly around and get inside of. Like magic. Then they started to add and subtract from that 3D object – after that there was no stopping them. They were thoroughly hooked.
Truth is, I’m not here to advertise SketchUp. I’m here to encourage more young girls and women to pursue architecture. It’s why Barb and I taught three workshops on a Saturday afternoon in remote eastern Washington to begin with. So if your daughter, your niece, your cousin, your friend or YOU have ever had an interest in architecture then take it a step further. Start by downloading this free software and let your creativity run wild. And while the software is downloading – here’s the REALLY critical part – grab a sketch book, a soft pencil and draw everything in sight. Computer modeling cannot and will not EVER replace hand drawing. It is a supplemental tool to hand drawing but it is an invaluable tool nonetheless. And it may just be the best lead into the field of architecture.
So girls, draw draw draw. And stick with it. Because while architecture schools contain a balanced 50/50 male to female ratio, the percentage of female registered architects hovers near single digits at a mere 12%. Imagine what the built world could be like if we had just as many woman designing our cities, our skyscrapers, our schools, our light rail systems, our houses and our chicken coops as we have men designing them. It’s time!