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If we want to build a place for us to live, hang out, or eat dinner with our friends, we're going to need a special kind of engineering called architecture. In this episode of Crash Course Kids, Sabrina gets us to help her build a place where she can have some alone time and rock out to Taylor Swift.

///Standards Used in This Video///
3-5-ETS1-1. Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.

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Producer & Editor: Nicholas Jenkins
Cinematographer & Director: Michael Aranda
Host: Sabrina Cruz
Script Supervisor: Mickie Halpern
Writer: Allyson Shaw
Executive Producers: John & Hank Green
Consultant: Shelby Alinsky
Script Editor: Blake de Pastino

Thought Cafe Team:
Stephanie Bailis
Cody Brown
Suzanna Brusikiewicz
Jonathan Corbiere
Nick Counter
Kelsey Heinrichs
Jack Kenedy
Corey MacDonald
Tyler Sammy
Nikkie Stinchcombe
James Tuer
Adam Winnik


Sabrina: Hey there engineer buddies. I just want to thank you so much for helping out in the last episode. I needed to get my phone out of the storm drain, and together we designed a solution. Our robot was just one of many possible solutions and maybe you had an even better idea at home. If you did please send it my way, I'd love to check it out.

But, I've got a whole new challenge for you. Have you ever just wanted some space to yourself, a place to relax, do your own thing? eat Nutella straight off your fingers and burp with abandon. Yeah, I need that. That is a thing I need. You know what could help? I bet you already guessed it. Engineering. So, how do we use the engineering process to solve this problem? 

 Big Question(00:48)

Well, first we've got to define the problem. I need a place that is secluded and quiet. I need it to provide privacy and a sense of my ownness. Sound pretty great, right? What about a big box use as my my space. It's secluded, and it can be all my own. Solution-wise it's a start but a small one. We need to consider more options. What if I made adjustments to a space I already have: my room! I can hang blankets from the ceiling to block out sounds from outside. And then I could also sing my head off to TSwift if I wanted to without bothering the rest of my family. To top things off I could add a do not enter sign to my door like a serious sign, bold font, all caps, respect my sign.

Okay, we've got two options, what else? What if instead of adjusting a space I already have, I create a new space. There's a word for what we're talking about here: architecture. Maybe we could become not just engineers, but architects, engineers who design buildings. Even though the title of the job is a little different, the process is still the same. So, before doing architecture, we've got to weigh our options and choose the best design to take into trials.

Let's think about the box idea first. It's probably too small; I'll either be squished or be half hanging out of it. Okay, how about tricking out my room? Again, while I'd feel like I have a sense of privacy, I'd know that at any point, any one of my family members can bust in, and the blankets on the walls will muffle some of the sound, but wouldn't totally block them out.

But, hey, here's an idea what about a tree-house? It would be totally my own. It would be far enough from my house that any weird burps, or loud renditions of "Shake It Off" wouldn't bug my family. Of course, it would take some work, some architecture work. So, architect activate!


Let's build a treehouse. It'll have a drop-down rope ladder that I can pull up for optimal privacy, and it'll have windows so I can spot when someone's on the way over and properly prepare myself. I can even use the blanket wall idea for my second proposal to muffle the sound. Of course, I'll need space for lounging, and reading, and dancing around, but before we start building you know what we've got to do. Build a prototype and test it.

And in order to conduct useful trials we need isolate the variables. What are the variables of this particular mission? The size of the treehouse we choose and the weight of the treehouse are really important variables, because we gotta make sure the treehouse can stay in the tree. What about variables when it comes to soundproofing the thing? The number and size of the blankets that I use would be one, and so would be the amount of noise I plan on making inside the treehouse.  

And we have to keep in mind failure points too, like the tree might be able to support little old me in a small wooden treehouse, but if I have a friend or two over, the load might be too heavy. That would be a serious failure point. As for keeping things nice and quiet, maybe my thickest, heaviest blankets can block a soft rendition of "You Belong With Me," but they might fail when I belt out "Shake It Off," or have a burping contest. You've gotta test these things. So we'll keep working with the variables until we've got a working design, then it's time to build. 


Architects use the same process, the engineering process, when planning buildings, from skyscrapers to small family homes. I came up with what I think will be a great treehouse, but, as always there can be lots of different successful solutions. So here's your challenge: can you come up with your own architecture solution? What would your building look like? How would it meet the success criteria and navigate the variables. Let us know!