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Powerful Public Spaces

Theme: 
Public Spaces
Grade: 
9, 10
Essential questions
What are some characteristics of a great public space?
What is placemaking, and how can it enhance a community?
Are the public spaces in my community great public spaces?
How can I apply what I've learned to make recommendations for turning an existing public space into a great public space?
What is the value and role of culture in public spaces?
Who owns and cares for public spaces?
How can we integrate aspects of our culture into public spaces on our campus?
How can we effectively execute a plan to improve a public space on campus?
How have improvements we’ve made to public spaces on campus impacted our school community?

This module includes the following lessons:

Lesson 1: Eco-101: 101 Fundamentals: Public Spaces (Estimated time needed: One 60-minute session)
In this lesson, students begin by working together to define public space. Then they learn about some of the characteristics of successful public spaces. Next, they experience a visual tour of examples of great public spaces from around the world and explore what makes those spaces great. The interactive presentation ends with students applying what they’ve learned by first analyzing a public space for characteristics of greatness and then visualizing how to transform a not-so-great public space into a great one.

Lesson 2: Eco-Activity: Planning Smart Spaces (Estimated time needed: 60 minutes, but varies greatly depending upon individual circumstances)
In this lesson, students build upon what they learned in Lesson 1: Fundamentals: Public Spaces by role-playing urban planners who have been called upon to help city leaders update their public spaces. Students work in groups to analyze a particular type of public space (park, town square, civic center, waterfront, museum, public library, etc.). Then they map and redesign a space to be greener, more inviting, and useful for more people and purposes.

Lesson 3: Eco-Action: A Place for Culture (Estimated time needed: 60 minutes)
This lesson builds upon and complements the previous lessons in this module and prepares students for the module’s final lesson, which centers on implementing plans for a redesigned public space on campus. In this lesson, students focus specifically on how cultural elements impact great public spaces. Students review examples from around the world of public spaces that integrate cultural influences. Then they apply what they've learned by identifying a space on campus and developing plans to enhance that space by incorporating a cultural feature, such as a mural celebrating an important holiday or a sculpture commemorating an important historical event. Teams present their ideas to the class, discuss the pros and cons of each, and begin identifying a practical plan that they will implement in Lesson 4.

Lesson 4: Eco-Action: From Plans to Reality! (Estimated time needed: 60 minutes, but varies greatly depending upon individual circumstances)
In this lesson, students implement one or more ideas they developed in the previous lesson, Lesson 3: A Place for Culture, for invigorating a campus public space to have cultural import. Students work in groups to accomplish the task and to get the community involved in helping to execute the plan and to celebrate the redesigned space.

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