Our Experiences with the Summer Alberti Program

Tony Schmidt educates a student on a design program during Alberti at Washington University

Our Experiences with the Summer Alberti Program


 – By Amanda Yates, lead designer, brand experience


Throughout the month of June, about thirty of us here at PGAV Destinations got up from our desks, peaced out of PowerPoint, said adios to AutoCad, and sayonara to our section details as we headed over to Washington University in St. Louis to volunteer with The Alberti Program. While we’d spent some time volunteering with the program this spring, the summer session provided an even greater opportunity for involvement, as the class met daily for four weeks. Working closely with Gay Lorberbaum, PGAVers advised on curriculum, hosted four workshops in Drawing and Sketch-Up, provided one-on-one help to students in the classroom, gave a total of seven lectures on topics ranging from roller coaster design to pollinators, and led tours of our office and the Saint Louis Zoo. We even attended the final day celebration and had the pleasure of watching the students present their work to their families.


Alberti students talk to Steve Mohesky about 3D Modeling on the PGAV office tour
Alberti students talk to Steve Mohesky about 3D Modeling on the PGAV office tour


As you’ll read below, we were impressed with the Alberti students’ creativity and ingenuity. We experienced the passion and energy of the program, and were honored to be a part that. We can’t wait to volunteer this fall and are already dreaming up more ways we can get involved this summer!



In my role at PGAV, I give a lot of presentations. I was surprised then to realize how nervous I was to give a presentation to the Alberti students. I wanted to keep it fun and kid-friendly, and keep the concepts simple. We had agreed that I would talk about exhibit design and how we address a variety of learning styles in our projects. As I built to the theme that “play is learning,” I started by asking the kids if they knew how people learn, looking for things like reading, watching movies, playing games, etc… As the hands shot up, I picked a boy in the second or third row, maybe a 5th grader. “Kinesthetically!” he enthusiastically offered, “You know, physical movement!” Clearly, I had underestimated my audience. It’s a good thing I had some nice pictures.


Being a creative that wants to give back to our fine city, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a part of a program so well established. It makes giving my time to these kids that much easier, well done Alberti!

I’ve taken a few days this summer to teach a drawing class with my coworker Jason to these young creative minds. We made a lesson plan to work with the students on drawing still-lifes to develop a range of drawing techniques: how it is so important to draw what is seen, to define the difference between outline and line weight, working on perspective and shading in a range of styles.

The best part for me was when the students would ask for help and we would talk about the item being drawn, and it seemed like everything else around us just disappeared. We talked and worked together on the angle they were seeing the objects and the way line weight can ground an object on the page. When we did it together, slowed down, one-on-one, I saw their eyes brighten up, and their hands move with great confidence. They understood it, they got it!

Sharing what I know and someone understanding what I’m saying reminds me that we all just have to slow down to work together and we all will come out ahead. This isn’t only about the kids; it’s about all of us learning to help each other.


The kids in the Alberti program walk out of the doors with an amazing basis of understanding of design, social consciousness, and the world around them.
– Dave Cooperstein



After giving a lecture on storytelling through attraction design, I had the privilege of spending a few hours roaming the studios at Givens Hall. As I listened to student after student passionately convey their ideas and creations, I was reminded of how fun design should be and how beautiful creativity is at its core. The environment was collaborative and students were quick to encourage one another, pointing out how fantastic their fellow designers’ creations were. I was also reminded of how, as a young creative student, I had specific mentors and experiences that exposed me to ideas and fields of study I could never imagine.

Alberti is an amazing forum for these young students; and through their exposure to the world of architecture and design, their imaginations have been launched into an amazing opportunity to explore, invent, and dream. It was an honor to be a part of it – if only for a few short minutes. [More from Justin Stichter]

Photo: James Byard/Washington University
Photo: James Byard/Washington University


I led a one-hour Sketchup workshop as part of the Alberti summer program with wonderful support from Tony Perkins and Ankit Darda. Our ten students ranged from 3rd grade to 6th grade. As proven typical from our exposure through the Alberti program, the kids were nothing short of amazing. Their energy was exhilarating and gave back to us much more than we could ever share with them. Each time we demonstrated a new exercise, the children responded with “That’s so AWESOME!!! Yes, yes, YES!!! I LOVE Sketchup!!! Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeessssss!!!”

This is not an exaggeration. These kids were like sponges for knowledge. After 45 minutes of formal training, the students spent an additional 15 minutes embellishing their models – that’s when we got to see just how creative they really were. Great kids, indeed! [More from Tony Schmidt]



I helped with the SketchUp session this summer, and I realized that the students are way smarter than I expected! They have great creativity and talent. I’m hoping that in future sessions, what the students generate in 3D on the computer can be laser cut and built out as a real model, with a group of students collaborating on the same model.




I led the Alberti field trip to the Saint Louis Zoo with Rosey Masek-Block. It was awesome to bring awareness to the kids about the habitats at zoos meeting the needs of the animals. You could really see the kids thinking about what the animals would like, from the animals’ point of view – rather than from a human’s point of view. Encouraging empathy toward animals by thinking about their homes is really a powerful way to connect kids to animals. [More from Stacey Ludlum]



Although I didn’t have the chance to sit in on a class and watch the kids in action, I was involved in the set-up of a workshop. While preparing the work-spaces, abundant with crazy creative materials, I could only guess at the variety of imaginative structures the kids would soon bring to life! What a unique opportunity for young designers to experiment, discover, and play!



It’s always nerve-racking to present what you do for a living in front of an audience. When it’s an audience of 3rd to 12th graders, it’s even harder. Will they be interested? Will they sit still? Will they stay focused? Are you showing them the ‘right’ projects and images?

Well, the students in the Alberti program are not your average kids. Not only were they interested and respectful, they seemed to be uniquely engaged and fascinated by the presentation in a way that many college students, and sometimes even grown adults, don’t always exhibit. They seemed to be truly interested in PGAV’s design process, how we think, and how we approach our projects. And they asked relevant, sometimes probing, questions to get more information out of me than I expected they would want to know.

And when a group of us stood in a computer lab teaching them how to build 3D computer models using SketchUp, their love of learning and understanding was even more prominent. They have a thirst for knowledge, and a desire to build their skills, that I don’t remember having at that age. Maybe it’s just because I never had the opportunity to experience this type of amazing learning opportunity, at least not until much later in my schooling.The kids in the Alberti program walk out of the doors with an amazing basis of understanding of design, social consciousness, and the world around them. [More from Dave Cooperstein]


Photo: James Byard/Washington University
Photo: James Byard/Washington University
Share Button