Plan a Park

Art and Mathematics Activity

In this activity, students create a plan for a park system for their community.

WHAT YOU NEED

• Maps of planned cities/towns (such as Philadelphia, PA, or Washington, D.C.)
• Local maps
• Graph paper

WHAT TO DO

1. Explain to students that towns in colonial America were often carefully planned to meet the needs and even the beliefs of its settlers. For example, a plan for a New England town often included a town square or park, called a "green," on which faced the church and other important buildings.

2. Point out that green public spaces are still important to today's cities and towns. For example, The Common, in Boston, MA, and Central Park, in New York City are very important recreation areas for people, and provide a change from the urban enviroment.

3. Explain to students that their assignment is to design a series of parks (or mini-parks) for their community. They can use existing green space or suggest where such space might be created. For an added challenge, tell students they must use geometric shapes in their designs: circles, rhomboids, squares, arcs, ovals, and so forth, or a combination of any of them.

4. Distribute graph paper to teams or partners. Explain that students are to do the following:

1. Locate on a map where they would put each park or mini-park.
2. Decide how each space would be used (for example, as a playground, golf course, flower garden, boating and swimming area).
3. Design the green spaces by drawing them on graph paper. Identify the location of each site by street or by coordinates (or both).
4. For each plan, show the locaiton of such features as groves of trees, flower beds, boathouses, playground equipment, rest rooms, walkways, and pools. Label them.

5. Pair off teams or partners so that they can share their completed plans with others. Continue until everyone in the class has seen all the plans.

TEACHING OPTIONS

Follow a procedure that might occur in a town or city. Appoint a "planning board," which will evaluate all the plans and choose the three or four that the majority thinks is most workable. Have the individuals responsible for each plan present it in an open meeting to "the public" (all students). Open the floor to discussion. Then have students vote by paper ballot for their favorite plan.

Have students share their ideas with town or city officials and with local newspapers. With the group, compose a cover letter and send out copies of students' favorite plans.

Some students might enjoy researching and sharing drawings and pictures of cities and towns with green spaces. Others might research the life and work of such landscape architects as Frederick Law Olmsted.

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