For the last four weeks, our fourth and sixth graders have stepped away from their normal routine and took on a huge challenge that will benefit the students of ZCS for a long time. The “What If? Innovation Project©” challenged the students to design a nature-based playground that encourages play, worship and learning for students of all abilities during all seasons. This time was far from being a “break” for the students as they still learned math, reading, and writing, they were then able to apply that knowledge immediately. Added to that they took on challenges like designing, problem-solving, collaborating and public speaking.
During the four weeks, our students worked closely with local businesses including Gentex, Haworth, IDA Design, Tiger Studio, GMB Architecture, and DISHER. The designers from those businesses became mentors, walking closely with our students to show them how the design process works. Through their mentorship, our students were able to dream big and think practically.
Last week Wednesday ZCS was filled with business people, board members, parents, grandparents, and young designers. Meeting first in their design studios (classrooms and project rooms) the ZCS designers explained the process and showed some of their work. After which they moved to the Media Center where each studio presented their top design to the school board and ZCS administration. The room held a full crowd as the designers presented their final mock-up playgrounds and fielded questions about potential challenges with their designs.
It was such a blessing to see the students efforts both in their own learning and also in leaving a legacy for Zeeland Christian Community for years to come. After their final presentation, the school board and administrative staff will take their design ideas into consideration and begin the process of deciding how to implement our young designer’s hard work. We look forward to the next steps of this project!