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Virtual Reality, Laser Cutter, and Pizza: Techbridge Girls at Bassetti Architects

Girl at BassettiThis spring, twenty-five Techbridge girls from Madrona Elementary School visited Bassetti Architects, a Seattle design and architecture firm founded in 1947. The company has a long-standing relationship with Highline Public Schools, having designed Raisbeck Aviation High School only a few years ago, a project led by Principal Emeritus Marilyn Brockman.

After being introduced to several female designers and architects, the girls went on a scavenger hunt around the Bassetti office. During the activity, girls used maps and staff photos to find employees with different career experience at the firm, and each group of girls learned about a different tool that architects uses: 

  • plans and elevations, or graphic representations of floors and walls; 
  • scales, tools used to draw small versions of what architects design; and 
  • dioramas, which are three dimensional models of a given space.  

Bassetti Field Trip

Girls also had the chance to use a new tool to architecture: virtual reality devices. The architects downloaded a 3D computer model of one of their designs onto their phones. They put their phones in the cardboard viewing goggles and the girls took a virtual tour of the space, looking up and down and turning all around. “The girls loved viewing the designed space in 3D. It was a new technology they had never seen before and was a great learning experience for them,” explained Techbridge Program Coordinator Tania Tauer. 

Bassetti field trip

Over pizza and juice, girls asked role models questions about working in architecture. This was an impactful time for the girls; on the way home students recounted advice they had received, such as “We can make mistakes and learn from them” and “It is hard to learn [architecture], but we can do it!”

Bassetti field tripFollowing lunch, the Bassetti volunteers introduced the girls to their challenge for the afternoon: using tools discovered during the scavenger hunt and their observation skills to draw a plan and elevations for a conference room. After spending time recording all of their observations about the room, girls used their drawings to solve a puzzle: the architects gave each small group of girls a variety of plan and elevation “puzzle pieces,” and the girls had to use their own drawings (and their observations) to find the ones that corresponded to the room they were just in. Once girls completed the puzzle, Bassetti volunteers provided each girl with a laser-cut chipboard cutout of the conference room that girls had to shape into a 3D model and color with their personal touch. The models were taken home as a reminder of their visit and all they had learned.
 Bassetti field trip
The Techbridge girls greatly enjoyed their visit to Bassetti Architects. When asked what they had learned or remembered most about the trip, some of their responses included:

  • "Something I found memorable was you can build a structure or draw very small as a guide that lets you know where things are in real life." 
  • "That designing things [is] something related to math."
  • “I like [architecture] because it's creative." 
  • "My favorite part of the field trip was the role models because they were fun and nice."

Bassetti field tripCaroline Lemay, Principal Architect, said that the trip was memorable for the Bassetti team as well. She noted, “I learned that some of the girls were new to the country and only learned to speak English recently. Still, they were full of questions and offered their observations freely and in an unrestrained way which was very refreshing. At the end of the day, most of them wanted to become architects and work at Bassetti. Mission accomplished!”

Techbridge is enormously grateful to Bassetti Architects for hosting a wonderful field trip and for helping to inspire our girls to see themselves as STEM professionals.

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