Combine architecture, urban planning, civic responsibility with career presentations … and what do you have? A month-long program called Bookopolis, 2040!
For homeschool programming, I love to create series of programs that combine different curricular areas and culminate in a “wow” factor. As a teacher in the ’90s, I worked with my 5th grade students on a program I called “Alexandria, 2020,” which, at the time, seemed futuristic! Fast foward (quite) a few years. I decided to create Bookopolis, 2040 as a way to teach students about architecture, urban planning, careers, and civic responsibility.
To begin with, I invited two local architects to speak to the students. One is a residential architect; the other works on commercial projects, including the Burj Khalifa, Jeddah Tower, and other skyscrapers! Both talked about the process of architecture: from programming (talking to clients about their needs) to schematic design (rough sketches), from blueprints to actual construction. The commercial architect shared a LEGO Star Wars instruction booklet, “If you’re building with LEGOs, and you’re making your own creation, you can do whatever you want, but if you’re building this particular Star Wars spaceship, you have to follow the instructions. The same is true for architects and contractors.” The residential architect demonstrated SketchUp, a web-based 3D modeling tool developed by Google, which does offer a free version.
The following week, our Village’s planner spoke to the group about his job. He read a picture book about urban planning, gave a presentation, and shared zoning maps from the communities where our students live. Next, he led us in a great activity where everyone brainstormed what a community needs. He then gave out index cards with those spaces listed on each (school, housing, hospital, recreation, green space, etc.). The students had to place their index card on a large poster board, discussing and debating which things should go near each other, which things shouldn’t…and why! It might seem great to live next to a hospital, but what about sirens in the middle of the night? This presentation laid the foundation for our creation of Bookopolis, 2040.
The last guest speaker was our Mayor! She talked to the group about her job, her responsibilites, and the importance of voting. We had planned to hold a mock election at the end of the series but ran out of time for that activity.
The students used the knowledge they gained from our speakers to create their futuristic houses as well as the planned community called Bookopolis, 2040! For the futuristic houses, we used a product by 3Dux. The students enjoyed using graph paper to create their floorplans and then building the houses based on those plans. (Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of those projects.)
We created Bookopolis, 2040 in much the same way that the urban planner taught us: the students decided upon important elements and where to place them. Streets connected everyone to everything. The students decided that Bookopolis was nestled between a beach and the mountains. Bookopolis didn’t need a factory because of its sports complex and tourism potential. Bookopolis included:
- an airport
- a sports complex
- offices, stores, and restaurants
- a library (of course!)
- a forest preserve and parks
- a bank, police and fire stations, and a hospital
- a hotel
I was really excited to create this program series, especially because it allowed me to to tap into the talent of our residents and to collaborate with different government officials. All in all, Bookopolis, 2040 was a wonderful, month-long program for our Library’s homeschool students!
This blog post addresses the following ALSC Competencies: I. Commitment to Client Group and III. Programming Skills.