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Photo by Rowa Lee

Make It Rusty!: Q&A with ArchForKids

September 8, 2017

On Saturday, September 23, 2017, families are invited to join us for Make It Rusty!, the latest in our Make It! festival series. Create, listen, build, and learn as a family through stories, art, nature, and design! Each month we explore new themes with interactive activities for children and their caregivers.

Design and construct industrial-inspired mixed media garden sculptures that will age over time. Catch stories about the past and live performances, too.

Friends of the High Line (FHL): For those unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe it? How did you get started?
ArchForKids (AFK): ArchForKids is a small education venture established in 2013 by myself (Janny Gedeon), Karen Orloff and Kathryn Slocum. All three of us have design backgrounds. We wanted to make a difference into the lives of children by exposing them to the world around them.

ArchForKids offers dynamic, hands-on learning experiences grounded in architecture, design, engineering and urban planning. Why architecture? It surrounds us – it is relevant, easily accessible and tangible. Kids like building things, feeling the accomplishment of problem-solving and creating something interesting, useful and beautiful. We think architecture is a great medium for all kinds of learning and doing.

Young people have so much to offer when it comes to expressing ideas and exploring possibilities. But the constant testing in schools dampens this creativity. We seek to spur critical and creative thinking, essential skills for future success.

On any given program, young designers brainstorm, sketch, estimate, design, calculate and construct. They use the design process. They apply academic concepts to real world situations. They create projects that are relevant to their lives and communities. In doing so, they become more engaged in the process of learning.

ArchForKids reaches young people in schools, libraries and museums as well as in after school settings, homeschooling groups, “building” parties and more.

FHL: What kind of stories do you feel your work tells? How does it tell those stories to young people?
AFK: The built environment has so many stories to tell. Buildings – built, designed and populated by people – have histories, various uses over time, reasons they look the way they do, and play important roles in the growth and development of a city. By exploring the designed world, young people gain a deeper understanding – and appreciation – of their own communities and the wider world.

It’s also important to have people understand that children learn in different way. Individuals have several ways of processing information – musical, visual, verbal logical, bodily-kinesthetic – it is rarely just one of these. The best moment in a program is when kids understand concepts they thought they couldn’t grasp and when they make sense of these concepts through building a model. Math/science content comes to life while they are designing and building.

FHL: How does your work speak to the NY community?
AFK: ArchForKids uses New York City as its classroom – it’s such a rich source for architectural curriculum. We often use students’ immediate communities. For example, we take walks around neighborhoods to explore the architecture. Back in the classroom, they might design facades of their communities, propose uses for vacant lots or design a new green space for their community.

FHL: Tell us a little about what you have planned for Make It!
AFK: ArchForKids is honored to be part of the Friends of the High Line series. For last August’s ‘Make It Move’, kids and their families explored what moves people and goods around the city. Families designed and built different modes of transportation, including trains (using the tracks on the High Line to start a conversation), trucks, boats, planes, busses, cars and much more. For September’s ‘Make It Rusty’ theme, we will use the High Line’s cast iron structures and rails as inspirations. Families will be making several projects using materials that will allow them to observe the chemical change that happens when a metal become rusty over time.

FHL: What would you like attendees to take away from your activity?
AFK: First of all, we want attendees to have fun making and creating together. We hope they realize they can build stuff out of anything – many of our supplies are recycled materials such as boxes, bottle caps, paper towel tubes. And of course, we’d like kids to become aware that architecture, engineering and design are all around them.

The last thing that they take away with them is the model that they built with us!

FHL: What makes the High Line as a venue unique or challenging to you and your work?
AFK: The High Line is a distinctive architectural structure that it has captured the imaginations of city residents and visitors alike. Transforming an abandoned elevated railway into a beautiful public park for all was visionary. But it’s not just a passive recreational space; The High Line is activated by an amazing education and art program, and we are excited to be part of that effort.

Having such a high profile public venue has its challenges. Our programs have to accommodate many hundreds of people. But that’s also the rewarding part – the fact that so many children have the opportunity to design and build. Using the assets of the High Line, we invite families to freely use their critical thinking skills and imagination.

Make It Rusty!
10AM – 1PM
On the High Line at 16th St.

Rain or shine

For children ages 0-12 (and their caregivers)

Free – RSVP Now


High Line Families is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council.