Spring 1985 // Volume 23 // Number 1 // Ideas at Work // 1IAW4

Previous Article Issue Contents Previous Article

Where Will You Live in the Year 2020?


Ann Dellenbarger
Housing and Design Specialist
Oklahoma State University - Stillwater

Where will you live in the year 2020? Oklahoma 4-Hers learned more about their housing future through a workshop covering housing function and design. The impacts of technology, location, and culture were also included. The following teaching modules were used to develop new "thinking tools."

Group Think

Using a converging diagram, the youth were encouraged to brainstorm about all the factors that influence housing: environment, economics, technology, society, and history.

Oklahoma 4-Hers focused particularly on climate factors in environment and the technology of computers and modular building techniques. In one workshop, a lively discussion followed a negative comment by one of the participants about mobile homes. The discussion leader asked the entire group to identify as many kinds of mobile homes as possible. Modulars, prefabricated units, tepees, covered wagons, and even spaceships were suggested. It helped everyone move from stereotypical ideas of housing and set the stage for the activities that followed.

Map Making

Being able to present ideas on paper is an important skill. By first knowing what exists, better planning for the future is possible. This concept was used in the second teaching module: a penny hike. Each participant was given a penny and directed to a street corner from which to start. Flipping the coin provided a random direction. If heads, the person went right one block, if tails, left one block. The coin was flipped at each corner for eight blocks and the participants returned to sketch a map of their hike.

The maps were exchanged and used as a basis for discussion on direction, clarity, and completeness of information. This activity helped the youth realize how difficult it is to plan a course and follow it.

Different idea presentation methods such as map making, bubble diagrams, blueprints, and flow charts were some of the other techniques included.

Group Project

To practice the presentation skills and incorporate the information from the brainstorming activity, group projects were assigned. Each group drew a random housing situation from a deck of cards. The cards were in color-coded categories of housing type, location, construction technique, and household composition. For example, a situation drawn might have been multi-family units, in a small community, that are modularly constructed and occupied by an elderly couple. After deciding the best design solution for the situation, the group recorded their thoughts on paper and shared them with the other participants in a large group discussion.

Individual Project

A final activity allowed each participant to consider his or her own housing future. They were asked to design a space or earth station to live in during the year 2020. Questions to answer included: What were the environmental, economic, social, technical, and historical factors that influenced your design? Who would live in the station? What community services would support your station?

The designs, drawn on paper, included a short description. They were later compiled into a booklet and distributed to all workshop participants. In all cases, the designs included ideas presented during the brainstorming activities and demonstrated skills in idea presentation. The use of concepts taught in previous modules was positive feedback to the workshop leader.


Through learning exercises such as these, we as educators can help develop in youth a proactive, rather than reactive, outlook toward the future.

Giving 4-Hers the opportunity to develop designs for their housing future builds skills necessary for ideas to become reality.