Design a Theme Park
Students design a theme park based on people and events of the Revolutionary War.
What You Need
- art materials
- reference materials on the events of the Revolutionary War
What to Do
- Encourage students to share what they know about theme parks. If students have been to one (or to any kind of amusement park), help them to develop a list of the attractions and activities they liked best.
- Tell students they are going to plan their own park, for which the
unifying theme will be the Revolutionary War. Explain that the challenge
is to make the park historically accurate, attractive to visitors, and
tasteful. Before students begin the actual planning, though, have them
discuss some or all of the following questions. You may wish to suggest
other issues on which decisions are necessary.
- Should the park deal with the whole war or just one period of it?
- Should we show one point of view only (the Patriots') or include the Loyalists' too?
- Should we concentrate on important battles or show other events as well?
- Of the people who did important things during the period, whose achievements should we include?
- Should there be an educational component to the park? That is, how much can we assume visitors will know and what do we need to tell them?
- Next, divide the class into about four planning teams. Each team will brainstorm ideas for the theme park, then outline a plan that summarizes their thinking. Finally, each team will select a spokesperson to present the idea to the whole group.
- After the teams present their plans, help students narrow down the possibilities to a single plan by generating a discussion on practicality, appeal, and commercial viability. Have the class vote on the design they would like to develop.
- Divide the class into teams that will be involved with different aspects of planning to carry out the design. Encourage students to suggest what kinds of planning will be needed. To stimulate thinking, suggest historical researchers, site planners, ride (or other attraction) planners, costumers, and set designers. Assign or have students volunteer for the team they would like to work on.
- After each team has developed a design for its area of responsibility, choose one representative from each one to serve on a liaison committee. Meet with this representative group to assess the plans and make suggestions.
- On a pre-set date, have the committee present its revised plans to the entire class. The plans should include text, maps, sketches and/or models, as prepared by the appropriate teams.
- Computer design and art programs are especially well suited to such planning because they allow the planners to retain more than one version of a plan, make changes, and manipulate one factor without redoing an entire plan. You may be able to appoint a computer design team to be responsible for inputting suggestions and changes.
- Have students decide on an appropriate geographical location for their theme park, then study maps of that area for suitable sites. Make a photocopy of the site students choose and have students superimpose their site plan on the map, in scale.
- Invite the director or other staff member from a local living museum and have them discuss the kinds of displays they offer and the work they do. If possible, have students visit the museum.