Middle School Project Envisions Sustainable Urban Spaces

by Julie Harris

This term, Grade 6 students collaborated on a real-world interdisciplinary project to redesign an urban space to meet the sustainability challenges of the future. Some students worked on a new plan for our Richmond Road campus, others redesigned downtown’s Centennial Square, and one class addressed real urban problems identified by Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and presented solutions. This authentic work gave all students opportunities to meet and learn from many experts in the field. The experts informed the students’ research and designs and gave ongoing feedback. We are so grateful to all of them for their input and time. Humanities, Math, Science, Design and Information Technology were integrated in this work, as well a focus on good collaboration and communications skills. The Grade 6 teachers are so proud of the creativity, critical thinking and commitment shown by the students.

Student Reflections

by Jasmine H.

For about two months, all of Grade 6 has been working on a big project. My class did a project called City 20/20 about redesigning Centennial Square. Our goal was to find the most eco-friendly and people-attracting way to redesign the space. We went on quite a few field trips to sharpen our understanding of urbanization. The most important field trip was to City Hall where Alec Johnston ’98 – a senior city planner and a SMUS alumnus – told us about certain design ideas that draw people into an area. Sarah Beeston also visited us to tell us about the importance of urban gardens. She told us a lot about food sustainability and food that we could grow locally instead of having it shipped to Victoria. After these experts had told us what we needed to know and some intensive research on sustainable solutions, we started to make our own ideal versions of Centennial Square.

In this project, we learned not only about the challenges of urbanization. We also learned about working together in groups and we also learned how to use a drawing program in Info Tech class to create our designs. When we were almost done making our maps, preparing presentations and polishing off slides, Alec Johnston came to our classroom to see how our project was coming along. Our presentation was really good and he liked our ideas of a bike cafe and the public washrooms. He gave us positive feedback and ways to improve our design. A week afterwards, we were ready to present at City Hall for the last time. Our presentation went well and I’m proud that we accomplished so much.

by Alexandra T.

This term, all the Grade 6s did a City 20/20 project. The idea of this project was to create a sustainable and green space for a place we were assigned. For our class, we went to City Hall and met the senior planner for the City of Victoria, Alec Johnston ’98, who challenged us with redesigning Centennial Square. The project included adding housing to the square, as well as making the square more lively and vibrant. We started by going on field visits. First we went to Topsoil, an urban garden. We learned how they use natural products to grow their plants and herbs. After that we went to Dockside Green and learned about water reclamation and wastewater treatment. The last visit we had was from Senior School teacher Sarah Beeston who talked about food security and the importance of growing our own food locally.

We learned about the design process. We drafted a map of Centennial Square, using scale and measurement in Math class. Our ideas included housing, green spaces and public “sticky spots” to bring people into the square. After we finished our first drafts, Alec Johnston visited to give us feedback on our ideas. Then we used a drawing program to make a digital copy of our final designs. We presented our map and ideas at City Hall and we did a great job doing our oral presentations with slides.

I really enjoyed working with new people and also designing a real space. Maybe the city will even use some of our ideas!


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