Construction Science Students Build Greenhouse for OKC STEM Program

Last spring, Construction Science students enrolled in Professor Bryan Bloom’s Design+Build course constructed a greenhouse for local nonprofit Engage Learning’s Makerspace in Oklahoma City. The Design+Build course, offered every spring, gives construction science students the opportunity to build a real-world project to serve a community partner. The Spring 2021 Design+Build course created a Mobile Medical Unit for the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes (read more here). The course focuses on the use of progressive construction methods that allow community partners to easily replicate the project as needed. 

Engage Learning, the most recent Design+Build community partner, is a Norman based nonprofit organization that works to bring hands-on STEM learning projects to schools and students. One of their projects is their Makerspace next to Mark Twain Elementary School in Oklahoma City. The Engage Makerspace hosts summer camps and daily after-school activities that focus on STEM and gardening for students at Mark Twain Elementary. The Oklahoma City public school has Title 1 classification, meaning at least 40% of the students enrolled are from low-income families.  

The Makerspace already included raised bed organic gardens to bring hands-on biological science activities to the Mark Twain students, but the addition of a greenhouse will allow Engage to provide these learning experiences year-round. With the greenhouse, Engage will also teach community participants how to grow sustainable food in urban settings. This is especially important as food scarcity becomes a larger problem.

The cedar and polycarbonate greenhouse was designed by Professor Ken Marold and built by the Design+Build students. Marold used digital fabrication techniques to produce steel connection prototypes for the greenhouse’s wood frame. This allowed him to simplify the tools and expertise needed to re-construct the design, so communities could recreate the greenhouse on their own.  

Design+Build projects built by construction science students continue to help communities in Oklahoma thrive, just as this greenhouse will help the Mark Twain Elementary School community learn about sustainable, small-scale agriculture.