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K-State Today

November 10, 2020

'GHOSThattan': Community planning and math not too scary for USD 383 virtual fourth graders

Submitted by Thom Jackson

The K-State Student Planning Association, a registered departmental student organization, celebrated its 10th annual event, BOXhattan — GHOSThattan version — with 104 fourth grade students from USD 383 virtually on Oct. 22.

BOXhattan was created as a unique and interesting hands-on way for association members to teach the principles of planning, community involvement and urban design to elementary students from all over the USD 383 district.

Molly Campbell, teacher/coordinator with SPA from Bluemont Elementary School, has been part of the BOXhattan experience since the beginning with SPA faculty advisor Huston Gibson, associate professor in the College of Architecture, Planning & Design's landscape architecture and regional & community planning department. Other grade school teachers who participated included: Meggan Eilert, Amanda Arnold Elementary School; Austin Cisneros, Northview Elementary School; and Kat Anglemyer, Lee Elementary School.

The theme of "GHOSThattan" was timely as it happened right before Halloween and students were challenged to create a city that has all of the different amenities a town should have such as, "Ghostry stores," libraries, hospitals and the local cemetery.

Once the buildings were complete, there was one final group discussion and presentation of structures. This year, within the virtual classroom, students presented their portion of the finished city, using Padlet, giving students a chance to use the knowledge they have just learned to discuss what makes a city, and what choices can make it better for all.

"It has been rewarding to work with Molly and her students these past 10 years, giving the opportunity for K-State students to engage with local elementary schoolers to discuss community planning, and the importance of math in planning a city," Gibson said.

Some of the students commented saying, "People must really love their pets. There are over seven pet shops!" "Building a city takes a lot of thought!" and "I want to plan my own city!"

"BOXhattan is a wonderful participatory event for these children, as it helps them to understand that cities are the result of comprehensive planning, analysis and foresight, not just happenstance," said Tim de Noble, professor and dean of the College of Architecture, Planning & Design. "I am so pleased our regional and community planning faculty and students have built this outreach opportunity into an institution, in the best sense of the word. Hopefully, some of these young students will set their sights on the design and planning professions as wonderful, difference-making careers."

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