Student-created project could pay off in grants

Wednesday, February 8, 2006
Two fourth grade teams at BIC West Elementary present their draft for a new playground to Dr. Kima Stewart, principal. Looking on are Amber Crabtree, art teacher, and Crystal Bowman, intern architect, who is working with the classes on the seven week project. (Town Crier photos/Revis Blaylock)

Art classes at Buffalo Island Central West elementary are taking their playground design project very seriously. Students in fourth, fifth and sixth grades are learning skills in a real-life project in hopes to create a playground plan to be used in a grant application for money to refurbish the playground. Under the leadership of art teacher Amber Crabtree and volunteer architect Crystal Bowman of Leachville, the students are using their newly learned skills in designing the playground.

Dr. Kima Stewart, BIC West principal, said she has been very impressed with the students' drawings, presentations, team work and enthusiasm for the project.

Mrs. Crabtree said when architect Crystal Bowman agreed to work with the students on the project, some of the students asked what art had to do with architecture.

"It did not take the students long to see the relationship and get excited about being part of the project," Crabtree said.

"My goal is to help the students understand what architects do, what it is about, and what it has to do with art, as well as other subjects," Bowman said.

The students divided into groups of five, and each student on the team assumed a particular role representing draftsman, public user, engineer, architect, and school/city official. There are 15 teams working on the project.

One of the first steps of the project was getting the exact measurements of the playground. Bowman gave the students a $50,000 budget to work with.

The teams did their research using internet resources and brochures with different playground pieces. The teams considered safety issues, handicap accessibly, age of the students, enjoyment, and other factors.

Teams created a drawing of their plan. Each team presented their plan, along with an oral presentation to Dr. Stewart.

Teams had done their research and explained their reasoning behind their design.

Dr. Stewart commented she was very impressed with the oral presentations.

"The students used words such as feasibility, proximity, and perimeter in their descriptions of the plans," Stewart said.

Dr. Stewart chose one drawing from each class with suggestions on combining ideas from each one to create one draft from each class. She praised each team on their good ideas.

The teams will work together to create one draft using the best from each team's work. One final draft will be chosen from each classroom to be compared and one of the three final drafts will be chosen to be used with a grant application.

Dr. Stewart said she hopes the BIC West PTSO (Parent, Teacher, Student Organization) will join with the project in the grant writing.

"The PTSO helps with fund-raising projects for our school," Dr. Stewart said. "We are also looking at private industry grants available and other grant options. It is amazing how much money is out there for different projects."

Crabtree expressed her appreciation to Mrs. Bowman for volunteering in the seven week project.

"It has been fun and a real learning experience for the students," Crabtree said. "The students are learning and have the opportunity to see their project used on their campus."

Crabtree said she hopes to work with Mrs. Bowman on an architect project for the East campus later in the year.

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