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Mini Lessons: Building a City of Dreams
LESSON 1: UTOPIA
Grade Level: 6-12
Middle and high school students will slow down and evaluate their own city/town, thinking about how it serves their needs; infrastructure requirements, preferences, and visual clutter. Students are then challenged to come up with a proposal for an ideal city. Students will build a scale model of their ideal city/town using upcycled material.
- Scenic America’s Principles of Scenic Conservation #1 – Retain the distinctive character of our communities and countryside by rebuilding older cities, towns and suburbs as beautiful places in which to live and work; and conserve agricultural land and open space.
- Scenic America’s Principles of Scenic Conservation #4 – Design a national transportation system that respects aesthetic values as well as economic and energy efficiency, social equity, and environmental qualities.
- Students learn an alternative to throwing away trash by making it into art.
- Students identify functions and places that people need and want in a city
- Students identify issues facing modern cities, such as pollution, traffic, transportation, waste disposal, and urban sprawl
- Students propose solutions for environmentally-friendly and livable cities.
Vocabulary: visual pollution, visual clutter, litter
Materials: A visit to the school’s dumpster can trigger lots of ideas, including ways to cut back on the creation of garbage. Collect an assortment of things for students to build with.
- Engage students by asking them the question: “What is visual pollution?” and having them think, pair, share ideas of what they think it could mean.
- Watch this video clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1elGzZMTLw&t=11s
- Tell the students that they will build a scale model of their ideal city using upcycled material. Each student will be building a city block to put together to form one big city.
- Brainstorm all the different ways that their own city serves the needs of all the members of their community including infrastructure requirements and living preferences.
- Identify components that they would like to include in their own utopic, ideal city.
- Student will brainstorm, plan, and implement
- Each class should build a city block. For ease in movement, it should be built on a sturdy piece of cardboard or something similar. At the end of the project, all of the classes should be able to bring their blocks together to form a city. Each class can label their block with “street signs.” This makes it easier for judging at the end of the project.
Requirements for each students’ build:
- ONE city block per student.
- Built on a sturdy piece of cardboard or something similar.
- City block is labeled with a “street sign” which identifies their project.
- Items used must be upcycled material.
Lesson 2: My Home, My Pride: A City Beautiful
Grade Level: 6-12
Middle and high school students will slow down and evaluate their own city, thinking about how it serves their needs; infrastructure requirements, preferences, and visual clutter. Students will identify an area of their town that contains visual pollution/clutter and design a plan to address it.
- Principle #5 Prevent mass marketing and outdoor advertising from intruding on the landscape or community appearance.
Vocabulary: visual clutter, visual pollution
- “This Space Available” video
- Computer and internet connection
- Before the lesson, assemble a collection of photos from around your own community that represent “good” and “bad” areas of town.
- Create a PowerPoint slideshow containing these pictures.
- Watch this video to understand what “visual clutter” means and different forms of “visual pollution.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1elGzZMTLw
- Engage students by showing them the pictures you assembled from town and ask them what they think about what they see. Lead the discussion towards the students identifying what makes a city or town both habitable as well as a pleasant place to live.
- Watch the interview with the director of the documentary “This Space Available” to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of outdoor advertising. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVcDJQzk4rE&t=2s
- After the video, discuss what the students thought and ask them “Do you think outdooring advertising really a problem?”
- Brainstorm areas of your town where this is a problem.
- Identify a specific area of town where visual clutter is of most concern.
- Brainstorm on anchor paper a list of reasons why is visual pollution is a problem in this area and the source of said problem.
- Plan and implement an action campaign that will make that will improve this targeted area of their community. Ideas be a simple awareness campaign, community clean-up, an editorial, short movies, or any other creative means of solving this issue.