By Katelyn Barcellos
CASTLETON — Sixth and seventh graders from the Castleton Village School brought home architectural triumph and 3-D fame last Friday. The students won first place in their division for their 3-D-printed models of the Old Cobbler Shop, located on the west end of Castleton Village, and the Hope House, which now serves as Castleton University’s Security building, during a state 3-D printed model competition.
“I’ll never be able to look at these buildings the same way again,” said faculty co-advisor Trevor Kelson. “The students worked so hard and did so well. I knew we had a chance.”
The Castleton Cougars team, made up of members of the Castleton Village School’s JUMP program, emerged victorious over six other schools at the fourth annual Middle School and High School Olympiad of Architectural History in Vermont, hosted by Vermont Technical College in Randolph. Teams from across the state gathered to present miniature recreations of historical Vermont buildings to 15 judges from across the state, in addition to Vermont Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcomb and representatives of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Burlington).
The JUMP program at the Castleton Village School is a personalized learning block during the day that students dedicate to strengthening their standardized test scores by concentrating on one particular subject, such as math or history. Students with high overall test scores met with Kelson for 35 minutes a day for five days a week starting in October to complete the project by March 30.
“I learned a lot more than I expected,” said 7th-grade student researcher Cooper Spaulding.
Entries were judged based on three metrics: 40 percent of the score was based on the students’ historical knowledge and research, 30 percent depended on the presentation and the distribution of tasks among team members, and the remaining 30 percent was based on the architectural detail of the model.
The students had to research their chosen historical buildings down to the jack arch lintel pattern of bricks above the windows and doors of the Old Cobbler Shop, or the bargeboard trim — also known as “gingerbread” trim — on the overhang of the Hope House. They memorized the complete history of the buildings and area, any structural amendments that the buildings had undergone over the years, and even the local flora.
For the Hope House, the students presented “An Interview with James Hope,” a video interview with the famous painter who began building the Hope House in 1851, featuring Kelson as the painter’s ghost. Students also created virtual-reality tours of the interior of the buildings and compiled drone footage of the outside.
The models were made using an Afinia 3D printer that slowly layers strands of PVC plastic into designs created by the students using a Sketch-Up program. Each model was constructed in three separate pieces, each of which took about 15 hours to build, said Kelson. The models were constructed to scale: the Hope House stands 4 1/2 inches tall — 1/80th the building’s actual size — and the Cobbler Shop is 2 inches tall — 1/100th the actual size.
Students said the project may propel them towards design majors later on, but for now, it’s all about what they’d like to accomplish at next year’s competition.
“I’d like to finish the Higley House,” said 7th-grader Noah Beayon, designated student SketchUp director, speaking about an unfinished 3D printed model. “Possibly the inside area, too.”
Principal Linda Peltier said the students’ research and finished work will be included in their student portfolios, which will serve as “electronic résumés” once they reach high school.
“Think of all the skills they learned,” Peltier said. “On the way home, they’re already talking about their plans for next year. That’s engagement, and anytime we can see engagement, it’s a win.”