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How Do We Build Better Schools? Ask the Students

By Ramya Raghavan

Nonprofits & Activism

Okay, YouTube -- it's time to trade in those water balloons for some #2 pencils. A new school year is upon us!

Thankfully, an organization called Architecture for Humanity (AFH) is trying to make the idea of heading back to school a bit more palatable. Earlier this year, they launched a competition for architects to design a "classroom of the future" and address the challenges schools face in trying to provide smart, safe and sustainable learning spaces.

A large number of entrants used YouTube to convey student input on their designs. This mashup shows how youth from schools around the world were involved in the planning process. Students also learned how to use various building tools through a YouTube series sponsored by AFH. In this video, students are taught to do modeling using Google Sketchup:

Architecture for Humanity had over 1,000 teams from 65 countries participate in the challenge and today they announced the winner, who will receive up to $50,000 to build or upgrade a classroom. Here's a video about the winning design from the Teton Valley Community School:

Interesting features of the Teton Valley project include a building that is heated and cooled geo-thermally, a greenhouse, and an outdoor area for each grade level.

What features do you think are essential to the classroom of the future? Leave your ideas in the comments below.