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K-State Today

November 5, 2014



Regional & community planning students host annual learning event with local elementary school

By Courtney Boman

The K-State Student Planning Association hosted its annual BOXhattan event on Oct. 31, working with 39 third-graders from Woodrow Wilson Elementary at the First Lutheran Church of Manhattan.

BOXhattan began in 2011 and is conducted once a semester. The event was created as a way for Student Planning Association members to teach the principles of planning, community involvement and urban design to elementary students.

The chapter takes the students through a multistep process that mirrors real-life planning scenarios. BOXhattan allows the children to plan their own city using boxes of various sizes. The children have to apply for building permits and have their building approved by an association member.

Once buildings are complete, there is one final group discussion about the finished city and what the children think of it. This gives students a chance to use the knowledge they've just learned to discuss what makes a city, and what choices can make it better for all.

"I hope that students will take away the desire to observe their surroundings in a new way," said Jessica Weber, regional and community planning student and president of Student Planning Association. "I hope they will begin to think about how design and planning is shaping their lives every day. I want them to question everything and dream of ways to make their city a happier and healthier place to be."

Since this year's event took place on Oct. 31, the group incorporated a Halloween spin on the BOXhattan from previous years. The event was titled "Ghosthattan" and there were new craft décor for the elementary students, including a spooky PowerPoint presentation, Halloween stickers and foam pieces, orange and black construction paper, Halloween music and of course, plenty of spider webs to string across the buildings.

"Planning is a degree at K-State that people are intrigued by once they hear of what planning encompasses," Weber said. "It is never too young to get kids thinking about their futures and how they might want to contribute to the working world."

The student chapter plans to have another BOXhattan event at K-State's All-University Open House in Seaton Hall on Saturday, April 11, 2015.

Student Planning Association members who participated in BOXhattan include:

John Heiman, Axtell; and Everett Haynes, Maize; Joe Foster, Alicia Hunter, Amelia Lewis and Alexis Stensland, all from Manhattan.

From Missouri: Megan Underwood, Greenwood; Melissa Wilson, Kirkwood; and Douglas May, St. Louis.

Taylor Whitaker, Moorestown, New Jersey; and Jessica Weber, Crowley, Texas.