Building bridges ... Designing dreams

Posted 6/12/19

How can architecture be made interesting for kids? That’s a question instructors Doug Caywood and Calvin Sneed were happy to answer to a room of nearly 25 children.

The Museum Center at …

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Building bridges ... Designing dreams


How can architecture be made interesting for kids?

That’s a question instructors Doug Caywood and Calvin Sneed were happy to answer to a room of nearly 25 children.

The Museum Center at 5ive Points’ summer camps are in full swing. They  were kicked off by the Art and Architecture camp taught by Sneed and Caywood.

Sneed is an official bridge hunter, with decades of research into bridges and their design. Caywood, managing principal at the Cleveland office of Lewis Group Architects,  is the founder of the proposed biblical museum Trek Thru Truth.

The Art and Architecture camp featured two age groups: kindergarten through second grade and  third through fifth grade.

Museum Center executive director Janice Neyman said the Museum's summer camp programs are important to local students because they offer a structured opportunity for them to grow. 

"Our camps allow students to learn new skills, be independent and make new friends," Neyman said.

"For the first time this year, we are offering a camp for high school students. Next week, students from grade 9-12 will have an opportunity to learn from a local professional and retired veteran about aircraft and STEM." 

Sneed said the children were enthralled by bridges and their architecture because they aren’t used to seeing anything like it. 

“When you tell a child that a steel truss bridge is made up of nothing but triangles, their eyes light up. Then I show them how the triangles fit together and how they all hold the weight of the vehicles going across it,” Sneed added.

One factor that leaves the children aghast is learning  many steel truss bridges are being torn down. This is often due to the high amount of upkeep needed for them, but Sneed said steel truss versions are far more unique and aesthetically pleasing than generic concrete bridges.

A common — and less expensive — method of building bridges is using cable stayed bridges.

Something many of the children found intriguing was the fact the architecture used in bridges is the same used in many skyscrapers and houses.

The eyes widened even further when Sneed pulled up footage of bridges he’d shot using his drone.

Sneed hopes to begin talking with middle and high schools across Bradley County about the importance and uniqueness of the bridges.

“This is a part of their history that’s vanishing fast,” Sneed said.

Following Sneed’s presentation, children in the camp made their own bridges out of popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners and straws.

Caywood, who’s worked in architecture for over 20 years, taught the second day of the camp.

He catered his presentations differently for the older and younger groups, and educated the children about what an architect is and showed them some projects he’s worked on personally in town.

Caywood did an activity with the younger students where they designed their dream school, and decided how it should be put together. They  took him on a “tour” of their school and explained its dimensions to Caywood.

For the older students, he went more in-depth with the history of downtown buildings in Cleveland, and had students draw a skyline of buildings out of chalk.

“I really tried to talk about the many different professions you can go into involving architecture. If you like to write, you can be an architect, but also an author or writer.

"If you like working on computers, there are certain architects who are working on computers all the time, and if you like to draw or paint, some architects’ jobs are to draw artists’ renditions of future buildings,” Caywood said.

“Whatever strength they have, there’s probably a field in architecture that would fit them well.”

Both Caywood and Sneed praised the level of interactive exhibits and the role the Museum Center plays in presenting downtown Cleveland to our city’s youth.

“I think if they get that interest into schools early, they’ll learn to appreciate it a little more and remember some of these historical facts they may not get from their normal studies,” Caywood added.

Upon returning to surprise the students on the last day of their camp, Caywood said the students surrounded him for a hug and some told him  they’d been telling their parents about what they’d learned in the summer camps.

This aligns with something Sneed noticed as well —  more students were attracted to the camp this year because Cleveland found out about how fun it was last year.

The Art and Architecture Camp is one of 14 different camps offered  through July.

The sponsors for this year’s summer camps are Diane MaGee with Deli Boys and the Cleveland Knights of Columbus.

Sneed invites anyone interested in pursuing more info about bridges to check out his book available oat

Fore information about Trek Thru Truth, visit

For more information about the Museum Center’s summer camps, visit



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