The American Planning Association Ambassadors completed another activity May 12th by joining an 8th grade history class at Harlem Middle School in Loves Park, Illinois. Three APA-IL ambassadors, Tim Bragg, Nathan Bruck, AICP, and Jon Paul Diipla, AICP, participated in a two hour presentation to a class of 31 students.
The presentation was divided into two sections; the first section being a presentation regarding the planning profession and highlighting a historic case study, a planned development in Radburn, New Jersey. The presentation then concluded with a neighborhood park planning exercise.
The first hour of our presentation touched on matters such as general planning duties; various planner specializations; the comprehensive planning process, and discussing the intended vs. completed Radburn build out. Our ambassador team demonstrated the diverse/specialized elements of the planning profession by explaining their own roles in government as a park planner, municipal planner and planner from a metropolitan planning organization.
During the second hour of our presentation, students were divided into teams and tasked with redeveloping a neighborhood park. Students were given some basic demographic information within a mile buffer of the park, a budget, and a menu of several park amenities with approximate costs. Students had a minimum of three amenities to include in their park plan: multipurpose field, prairie grass area, and a minimum number of trees. Once those obligations were met, the teams discussed what amenities to provide within the constraints of their remaining budget. Unfortunatly, time constraints prevented an opportunity for the teams to present their park improvement projects.
Two primary factors made this activity a success:
The activity was conducted as an interactive conversation, not just a one sided presentation to the students. Students were encouraged to ask questions/comments throughout the presentation, rather than waiting till the close for a Q & A session.
Discussion of real world projects/developments in the region sparked lively discussion. When we discussed current projects in the region, the students could make that connection on how planning affects their day to day lives.