Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, OK)

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  A boy sits at table holding a small brown box

A fifth-grader works on an ASTEK design project at Highland Park Elementary School in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Photo by Neal Evers

The mission of Oklahoma State University (OSU) is teaching, research, and extension. One of the programs that uphold that mission is the university's School of Architecture program, Architecture Students Teaching Elementary Kids (ASTEK). ASTEK provides OSU architecture students to schools to introduce art and design concepts to elementary students. Since its establishment in 1999, the ASTEK program has benefited more than 1,500 fifth-grade students. For many participants, ASTEK provides the only access to art and design learning. In 2000, the American Institute of Architecture Students recognized ASTEK with a Special Accomplishment Honor Award.

In FY 2004, Oklahoma State University received an NEA Learning in the Arts grant of $5,000 to fund ASTEK. In the 2003-2004 academic year, nearly 400 fifth-graders from all six elementary schools in the Stillwater Public School system participated in the program. Forty-five OSU architecture students volunteered to organize and teach weekly hour-long sessions. Subjects included scale and sketching, geometry in architecture, textures and materials, and urban and community planning. The Stillwater students also benefited from classroom visits by seven local practicing architects. At the end of the program, each group of participating fifth-graders created a master plan for a city, with each student being responsible for an individual building. These final projects were exhibited in the School of Architecture's gallery.

In addition to providing information for each weekly session, the 60-page workbook written and published by the architecture students also prepares the fifth-graders for statewide arts curriculum testing. The participating architecture students also benefit through the development of leadership skills.

(From the 2004 NEA Annual Report)