The Port of Seattle and a company called Educurious are bringing the imaginations of Showalter Middle School’s kids to life by involving them in a mock commission project.
Educurious is a non-profit based in Seattle that designs curriculums and offers support to students though career- connected learning and internships, according to the Educurious website.
“They (Educurious) do a lot of really cool programs — and excellent outreach program — and this one, they worked with the Port of Seattle to design a few projects. In this project specifically, it’s called the People’s Park Project where they worked with a couple of core staff members to develop a project where students take on roles either as park designer or a commissioner and are put into teams,” said Aidin Montefisher, a public affairs intern at the Port of Seattle.
The project has been worked on in several classrooms within the different schools in the area. Each grade has a different focus.
The seventh grade students at Showalter in Erin Herda’s class have been in charge of a mock park design for site T-117, a site that the Port of Seattle is restoring into a green space, according to the project overview. The class split up into different teams where they were assigned different tasks to tackle.
“Each team has a kind of a specific social focus, whether it be the environment or industry, or Native American Tribes, and they’re all given this empty park lot — that’s fictional — they got plans for it and everything. They were told to basically design their park however they want and that their fellow peer commissioners will then hold a mock commissioners meeting, similar to what we do here at the Port of Seattle to review the design and decide how to best create a park that positively impacts the public,” Montefisher said.
Port of Seattle employees have been over to visit the school to check in and see how the students are doing with the projects.
Montefisher said he too has visited Showalter to see what was going on and he said it was interesting to see what they were coming up with.
“It’s absolutely crazy. Some kids don’t really have the spatial awareness going on and they’re putting shopping malls in this tiny park, but it’s really cool and some people are coming up with great ideas. There’s a lot of really good inspiration that the Port of Seattle could use if they wanted to,” he said.
This is a great way for kids to express what they think would make for a good park, Montefisher said.
“I think it’s cool to have that perspective of the young people who are actually going into these parks maybe more often than the people who design the parks are. (It) just gives you a more direct focus and someone who actively uses it,” Montefisher explained.
This last week, the week of June 11 to June 15, the students were finishing up the final touches to their project and basically had their designs down to the finalized versions, according to Montefisher.
Montefisher went on to say he thinks this is a great project for kids to do because it teaches them communication and teamwork. He said they have to come together as a team and create a united design, which can help them understand kind of what the Port of Seattle does and how real-world jobs work.
“When I was in school, I didn’t have a lot of projects like this where I got to actually feel like I was in work place environment and designing something that would make an impact like this,” he said. “I think it’s cool to feel like you’re contributing to something that could be physically near you and something (and) have something the Port take seriously enough to have our own staff members show up, I think (it) speaks a lot to the dedication that the kids are putting into this.”