One of the benefits of being nestled in a city full of growth and development is that the students of Oakhill Day School can use the community improvements as a true to life social studies lesson in urban planning. The Oakhill Eighth Grade City Planning Project uses fundamental project-based learning ideas that include investigation and inquiry, student-driven production and presentation, creative and critical thinking, and finding authentic connections to real life issues.
What is a city? How does it differ from areas considered rural or suburban? As early as Fifth Grade, students begin learning the terminology needed to discuss city planning; terms like infrastructure, zoning (commercial vs. residential), and green space. Understanding the people that live in the community is a large part of the social studies city-planning unit, as students cannot begin to plan a city without knowing for whom they are building.
This year, students presented their Time Travel Building project to the City Planning Commission of Gladstone, Missouri for consideration. There was no shortage of imagination during the idea phase for this year’s project. Imagine a building that allows guests to travel between the prehistoric eras up to the future with a push of an elevator button. Students used SketchUp 3-D modeling software to turn their ideas into a visual representation of their project to support their proposed plans to the city. Past Eighth Grade City Planning projects include restaurants, entertainment districts, and shopping centers.