SECTION 2 | PROGRAM DESIGN - CURRICULUM + SCHEDULE
The ACE program is a form of informal education. ACE does not mandate a fixed curriculum or formally measure students’ mastery of a prescribed body of knowledge or skills. Rather, mentors follow a general programmatic model and draw upon a tested body of hands-on activities which reflect many aspects of designing and constructing a building.
ACE follows a project-based learning strategy. Project-based learning involves students’ exploration of a real-life, complex question by working for an extended period of time on a project that will show what they have learned and discovered.
Affiliates flexibly design their curriculums and schedules to suit their circumstances and capabilities. Examples are provided below.
Affiliates generally follow one of two models in designing their curriculums, the variable being when work begins on the final project.
Some affiliates, during the first half of the program, introduce students to different fields in the design/construction industry and teach basic skills (e.g., scale, structural forces) that are employed in developing the final project. The second half of the program focuses entirely on producing the final project.
Other affiliates immediately begin work on developing the final project, breaking it down into component parts (e.g., architectural design, mechanical and electrical engineering, structural engineering, landscape architecture) which become the topic of one or two sessions.
Most affiliates organize a program that meets approximately 15 times for two hours per session. Some programs convene shortly after school, while others meet near the end of the work day.
Most programs begin in the early fall (mid- or late October) and meet on the same day every other week, with interruptions for holidays.
A few affiliates compress the program into a series of weekly, rather than bi-weekly, meetings during the first or second semester of the year. These affiliates feel this model allows a more concentrated focus and maintains a regular momentum.
The decision to follow a weekly or a bi-weekly schedule depends entirely on the choice of mentors and students as well as on the availability of mentors.