ACE students show off their skills at Holiday open house

See some of the amazing demonstrations of architecture, construction, and engineering, on display at this unique East County charter school …

ACE Academy students show their realistic and fanciful gingerbread houses at their annual Holiday Open House.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Students from outer East Portland and Mid-County high schools who also attend ACE Academy for Architecture, Construction & Engineering – a school that combines rigorous academic and technical education for juniors and seniors – showed off their handiwork at their annual Open House on December 14.

Guests were guided through three areas of displays – gingerbread houses, a robotics demonstration, and constructed fireplace mantles.

Architecture and Science Instructor Marjan Rotting – a founding educator at the school – reminded that ACE students are also juniors and seniors at a “home” high school in Reynolds, Parkrose, Centennial, or Gresham-Barlow School Districts.

ACE instructor Marjan Rotting stands with Parkrose High senior David Voorhees – who describes why, and how, he created this to-scale Timberline Lodge gingerbread house.

“In this room, you can see that our architecture students have designed and built gingerbread houses,” Rotting smiled. “Each one of the gingerbread houses has an architectural style.”

These models aren’t built from a kit, Rotting stressed. “They have done the entire project, from creating the design, to sketching and scaling the house. Then, they have to create it – and meet the deadline – before presenting their house to the public at this open house.”

Parkrose High senior David Voorhees told East Portland News he chose the rather ambitious undertaking of creating a scaled gingerbread house model of Timberline Lodge – because “I’m a big-time skier. I go there often, even during the summer.”

Within the requited two-week time frame, he created the design of his model. “It’s got Graham crackers, chocolate wafers on the roof, pretzels for windows, fondant for snow, as well as powdered sugar. The chimney is made out of Twizzlers.”

It’s an all-out “robot war” in which these ACE engineering students are engaged.

In the next room, engineering students pitted their robots against others in a morning of “robot warfare” – similar to Lego or FIRST Robotics competitions in which they engage.

In the process of creating the robots, students learn mechanical design and construction methods – as well as how create the basic computer programs that remotely operate their creations.

ACE Academy students and Parkrose High seniors John Jerome and Shawn Brown tell about the fireplace mantle they designed and constructed.

Several ACE construction students built a mantle for their Open House Project. John Jerome and Shawn Brown proudly showed off their handiwork.

“The basic designs of the mantles are all about the same – but we decide the colors, and materials we’ll use to finish them,” Jerome explained.

“We chose a bunch of different types of material and put it all together,” Brown commented. “Surprisingly, it all matched. On the front we have a few different things, like making an elephant out of broken tile. During this project, I learned how to cut and lay tile.”

The men said that they may go into construction work after high school. “In this program, you learn a lot of skills you can use later in life, even if you don’t want to go into that particular career field,” Brown added.

Families who live in the ACE Academy catchment area, with eligible students, can learn more about the charter school by checking out their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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