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Laurel Tree Charter School three scoops three flavors benches
Three Scoops Three Flavors is a set of three benches built for the primary students of Laurel Tree Charter School. The bench set is built to provide an outdoor space for class meetings, performances, gatherings, and is also designed to be used as an interactive playground structure. Additionally, the bench is a model of sustainability built to teach and raise awareness within the student body of Laurel Tree.
Team Primary Benchspiration is a part of Humboldt State University's Fall 2012 Engr215 Introduction to Design Class. The team is composed of Jerrina Alverio, Andy Eggink, Caleb Fowler, and Allison Molleson. Team Primary Benchspiration worked in partnership with Laurel Tree Charter School to design and build a semi-circular bench for the latter's primary students. Laurel Tree Charter School is a K-12 school of approximately 110 students located in Arcata, California. The bench was built as a function of the mission of Laurel Tree to create a sustainable model of education.
Problem Statement and Criteria
Team Primary Benchspiration's objective was to design and build a bench for the primary students of Laurel Tree. Prior to the project, Laurel Tree did not have outside seating for class meetings, performances, or gatherings. Laurel Tree wanted youngest students to have a place to play and call their own during recess. Additionally, the design elements of the project include features of the bench that are "playable," such as checkerboards, a pipe-o-phone, a rock climbing wall, and a xylophone, to expand the outdoor activities available to the students. The following criteria were formed in collaboration with Laurel Tree.
- Durable and Functional
- Use of Sustainable or Recycled Materials
- Aesthetically Pleasing
- Interactive for Primary Students
- Signage Relating to Sustainable Implements and Truth Window
- Half Round Shape
- Low Embedded Energy
- Seats at least 20 Primary Students
Three Scoops, Three Flavors is a bench design created and constructed by team Primary Benchspiration. The bench was designed specifically for the primary school students at Laurel Tree Charter School. It was meant to be not just a bench, but also a play area for the students. The design is in the shape of a semicircle, in the style of an amphitheater and consists of three different bench types, each bench having playable features.
The Urbanite Bench
The Urbanite bench is the largest of the three benches at around three and a half feet high (four feet high is considered the maximum safe falling distance for primary student playground equipment) citation, and is the center bench in the semicircle. This bench is made from urbanite(recycled, broken concrete). The urbanite is covered in a layer of cement averaging 2” thick to provide stabilization, safety, and comfort. There is also chicken wire in the cement, which allows for greater tensile strength and impact resistance. This bench has three separate tiers, while the other two benches have only two. This provides extra seating, the required height for a climbing wall on the back of the bench sized for younger students(while falling below the recommended "safe playground equipment height" ref for younger students, no pun intended), and a more pleasing overall aesthetic. On the back of this bench are two different playable options, and a small mural. Rock climbing holds protrude from the back of the bench to create a small rock wall for the students to climb on. On one side of the rock wall is a mural depicting the laurel tree logo of Laurel Tree Charter School. Each leaf of the tree is a leaf shaped tile, previously made by the children as a school project, with one of the focus words of the school written on each leaf. (Has not been done) On the other side of the rock wall is a series of eight 2" wide aluminum pipes of differing lengths tuned to a diatonic scale. In a diatonic scale you can never hit an off-key note, allowing the children the freedom to experiment boldly with melodies, while developing ear training. Cutting pipes to the proper length for a pitch is difficult, since there are so many materials and gauges of pipe available, and securing them at the proper nodes to allow for free vibration can also be a complicated matter. Fortunately, we found a website with detailed information on just about anything you would ever want to know about making chimes, including even specific measurement tables spanning many possible octaves for different materials and gauges of pipes, with length and node measurements for each semitone. The website is found here: An Engineering Approach to Wind Chime Design and Build.
The Ecoladrillo Bench
The ecoladrillo bench is made primarily from stacked, recycled, plastic bottles. It is reinforced with rebar, chicken wire, and recycled steel grating. This bench is also covered in cement averaging 2” thick to provide stabilization, safety, and comfort. This bench has only two tiers, the backrest of this bench being shorter than the center bench and not extending the full length of the bench. This allows for extra seating and a more pleasing aesthetic. Painted on the top of the seat back are checkerboards, tic-tac-toe bards, and mancala boards.
The Earthbag Bench
The earthbag bench is made from earthbags. Earthbags are simply sandbags filled with dirt. In this case, for increased sustainability, all of the dirt in the earthbags came from the dirt dug up for the foundation. The bench appears to be identical to the Ecoladrillo bench except that the interior is made from earthbags, and it has(will have) different gameboards on top of the backrest.
|Item||Source||Quantity||Team Cost ($)||Total Cost ($)|
|PVC pipe||The Mill Yard||20'||17.50||17.50|
|River sand (yards)||Eureka Ready Mix||1.5||63.00||63.00|
|Earth pigment||ABC (20% Discount)||5||60.00||72.00|
|Root barrier fabric||Ace||60'||78.00||78.00|
|River sand||Wes Green||3||128.70||128.70|
|Yard of road base||Eureka Ready Mix||3||Donated||128.70|
|Tiles||The Tile Center||60||Donated||35.00|
|Rebar||The Boiler Works||80'||Donated||20.00|
|Plastic bottles||Eureka Recycling||Donated||50.00|
|Lime powder||Jungle Mike||5||Donated||40.00|
|Chicken wire||The Farm Store||100'||Donated||50.00|
|Barbed wire||Miller Farms||200'||Donated||20.00|
|Aluminum pipe||Arcata Scrap||24'||Donated||27.00|
|Aluminum molding||Arcata Scrap||25'||Donated||5.00|
|Climbing holds||Far North Climbing||13||Donated||80.00|
|Misc. Hardware||On hand||30.00|
Total Labor Hours (insert)
How to Build
This project can be implemented in a variety of shapes or sizes to effect a desired solution. Our design was built in a semi-circular configuration consisting of three separate bench sections designed to fit the needs and layout of Laurel Tree Charter School.
Step one: Making measurements for the foundation. Find the approximate center point of the semicircle you wish to build on, and mark it with something you can trust to not get moved around during the building process. A sizable rock driven flush into the ground with a sledgehammer is a good option. This point will become the basis for all of your measurements, so first have someone stand at possible center points holding a measuring tape while another person takes the end of the measuring tape and tests out the feel of different outer circumferences for the benches, walking around the perimeter back and forth to make sure that proposed arcs are not obstructed by other feature on the site.
October 2014 Update
The benches, constructed two years prior, now show some weathering. A final coating of lime plastering was sprayed over the bench, including over the tile to protect cement; the spray has since worn off leaving a rougher texture. The climbing wall and xylophone could use minor maintenance and cleaning but function as designed. A Plexiglas piece covering one of the Truth Windows has broken; the school is debating whether or not to replace with a stronger alternative or plastering over them. Signage for information on recycled materials in the benches is missing. Original planned checker board games to be placed on top of the benches have weathered away.
School Input & Project Results
This project was undertaken during the fall, which experiences high levels of precipitation. This made construction of an outdoor project difficult and provided poor working conditions for those involved which delayed progress. In future outdoor projects they'll consider seasonal conditions, most likely starting in the drier spring.
Laurel Tree reports that the benches are regularly enjoyed by students and the staff is pleased with the overall results.