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Thread: Explain planning to eighth graders?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Explain planning to eighth graders?

    Wow… I got good news today! I get to do a one-hour presentation to 100 eighth graders on what a city planner does! :-} I have some ideas of bring in a laptop with the game Sim City, and then showing them GIS and explain how everything relates. I am also thinking about explaining how zoning works, who we as planners get to work with, land developments and plot plans, field work, and how some things might work in one place, but not the other.

    Does anyone have any ideas of things that I would want to include? I have a lot of ideas now, but I am trying to narrow it down, and I know that some of you have done presentations similar to this in the past.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  2. #2
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Maps, lots of maps. Everybody likes to look at a map and find their city, the street they live on, the lot their house is on.

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    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Not to get too far off topic, but this is an area the APA could spend some money on. Before I went into planning I did some environmental education, and there was a ton of information geared to all age levels, instructional games and lots of ideas. If the APA wants to change how people think of us, this would be a good place to spend some time and effort.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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    Cyburbian Floridays's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake
    Maps, lots of maps. Everybody likes to look at a map and find their city, the street they live on, the lot their house is on.
    I've done similar presentations and yes, they are very visual. If possible, producing GIS/aerial maps of their house goes over VERY well!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Maybe a "what's the best place to locate the school, apartment building or supermarket" type activity. I did a presentation to 7th graders once on career day but I filled in last minute for somebody else so I generally discussed "what planners do." I also made a list of good websites for more information.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Eight Grade = Raging Hormones

    Be prepared for them to be bouncing out of their seats and generally not acting human. Sneak a few slightly dirty words into your presentation when you are losing them and they will refocus on your presntation. Use "poop" when refering to the city wastewater system. They love that stuff. Good Luck

  7. #7
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    We had a "Planners Day in School" program when I was at Ball State, where we went into 4 and 5th grade classes in Indianapolis. You may want to contact the BSU Student Planning Association to see if they still have materials on the program.

    http://www.bsu.edu/web/spa/
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    PM me with your email. I can send you a powerpoint we've been using for years which you can get some good ideas from, or just outright use.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by el Guapo
    Eight Grade = Raging Hormones
    ... Use "poop" when refering to the city wastewater system. They love that stuff. Good Luck
    [Billy Madison] He called the sh*t poop [/Billy Madison]

    In all seriousness, el Guapo is absolutely right on this one. I worked at an after school enrichment program for a few years back in college and can attest that eighth graders a rowdy and generally inattentive species. Keep it entertaining and light, avoiding as much jargon as possible at first. And use those maps... lot's and lot's of maps.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    I've presented to school kids of all ages. I like to make a game of it.

    If teachers would like to make a project out of it, they may want to do box city. I was involved with a project with 4th graders where all of the kids got to pick an occupation out of a hat and based on their occupation they got monopoly money. Then they purchased legos of different sizes and built structures (work and home). Depending on the occupation depended on whether you needed to build a place to work. Then the kids were asked as a group to organize the structures into a city. Then I came in to explain what planners do (land use, infrastructure, open spaces, public services, budgeting, etc....) and I got to critique their city layout. One group of kids got an excellent civics lesson when they as a "community" decided they needed a school and library. Each kid had to sacrifice money (taxes) and or legos to build the school and library.

    If you don't have time for this type of exercise, which the teachers may want to do before you present to the class, what you could do is use a chalkboard, layout a river and bridge and then ask the kids one by one to draw their house and what their occupation is. Then you draw it on the board. Then have the next kid do the same thing. Periodically say, well, since there are some many houses in the area sewerage, water or roads are becoming a problem. Then show them how to organize their infrastructure. For instance, (kids love this one) show them what happens if you put the sewerage discharge location up stream from the water treatment plant intake. As they are putting their businesses in, ask them why they put it where they did and then explain why they made a good or bad choice. This exercise is supposed to show how community issues occur over time and how land use and infrastructure work together. It's fun to widen streets and condemn some of their houses.

    It's funny because when I've done this exercise in rural schools, everyone is a farm and rancher, but in urban schools the kids tend to think of white collar jobs.

    Have fun and make it light-hearted.

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