Learning through Movement
Humans are designed to move. Movement is a key component of physical and mental maturation in children. It can take place in various settings, with different levels of intensity. During the developmental years of a child, it is imperative that a child is active. Most often movement and play are thought to occur outdoors. The idea of the"playground" activity does not have to be isolated to the outdoors. Children should be encouraged to be physically active in structured play, allowed free play with peers for social and emotional development, as well as learn through hands-on experiments that are important for their cognitive development. Play is how children experience their world and create new discoveries about themselves and others.
This thesis will be explored through the design of an elementary school for Alexandria, VA. An elementary school creates the perfect setting for which these elements of movement and learning to combine. This thesis explores the way in which the movement of the outdoor school yard can occur within the school building. The school grounds serve as demonstration to the community for active learning. Incorporating active design through elevation changes, material changes and the transition between indoor and outdoor allow the school to be a model for "learning through movement." This school also begins to address the larger issues of our society's unhealthy lifestyle by designing three levels of active design for the community, building, and individual child.