Grades 9-12 Explore Urban Planning by Hitting the Bricks

Article excerpt

Start a unit on how cities are planned by exploring an area near you and studying its development process. That's what students at Joliet West High School in Illinois did recently, the Chicago Daily Herald reports.

In exploring flood-plain development, students first visited nearby Rock Run Preserve "to see how a creek was integrated into the community as a beautiful resource and recreation area," the paper noted. Next, they visited the Spring Creek area in another part of the city, where development had been allowed to encroach well into the flood-plain area. A much older development, the area was designed to place as many homes as possible near a railroad yard and steel mills so that workers could easily get to their jobs.

There, the city's director of planning, Don Fisher, asked the teens to think up ways to improve on a vista marked by concrete walls and wire fences. "Do you get rid of streets or houses? Do you put in riverwalk ... or create small lakes? Look in both directions and dream a little," Fisher said. Students also were asked to study ways to reduce the risk of flooding in the area, as well as improving it aesthetically, noted teacher Matt Gibson. …