Project Ventura is a project on sustainable design at the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders located in Austin, Texas. During their 10th grade year, students complete a large-scale, independent project that counts as a credit for the distinguished achievement diploma program. This year, the project is centered on the restoration and conversion of a 1977, 12-foot travel trailer into an “eco-trailer”. Teams of 3-4 students were given a budget of $5000, with which they must come up with a design that includes re-framing, re-insulating, re-flooring, re-wiring, adding a fresh water holding tank and pump, installing solar panels, and using a minimum of 75% green materials or green methods. Teams will model their designs using Google SketchUp. In mid-March, each team will have to present their design to a professional panel of engineers who will determine the winning design. If our project is funded, we will use the winning design to restore the trailer ourselves!
In the future, the trailer will serve as a school community trailer that different staff members and student groups could use to go camping over the weekends or during the summer. This relates to part of our schools mission statement to commit to a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle as well as solve problems creatively and ethically in support of our global community. We would also use the trailer as an educational tool. Students would accompany the trailer to different elementary schools to show younger students how we can use green methods to restore and transform something that would otherwise be considered trash.
If excess funds are raised on Kickstarter it will be used to purchase another vintage trailer for next year's 10th grade engineering classes. Our vision is to have a fleet of student-restored trailers, that our school community could use.
"Our trailer, VENTURA, will hopefully be the first in a fleet of school trailers. But more than that, projects like ours demonstrate how easy sustainable living can be in the future. Everything we need is already all around us." - Mina, Engineering Student
Stay up to date with each design team's progress by reading weekly blog posts: www.projectventura.wordpress.com
Risks and challenges
The importance of getting Project Ventura funded is two-fold:
First, it is vital that we increase interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Science) education, especially among girls. There has been a longstanding gender gap among high school students interested in STEM majors and careers. According to a recent blog post by Education Week, the gap is widening, with only 15% of females interested in STEM related careers compared to 38% of males. Projects such as Ventura bring STEM to life and generate interest and enthusiasm that will lead girls to pursue STEM related majors or careers.
Secondly, Ventura is based on Project-Based Learning, a pedogogy that engages students in a real-world problem and emphasizes 21st century skills such as creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration. When learning is centered around real problems that have to be solved, students take more initiative and responsibility for their learning, and are more likely to retain content with a deeper level of understanding. Using a student-generated design to restore Ventura is the culminating event that brings the project full circle, and makes the learning experience authentic for the students. Raising the funds to complete the project truly creates a sense of ownership and makes learning "real"; however, it is also one of the biggest obstacles. Hopefully with Kickstarter, students will get to see all of their hard work come to life.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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