Five groups of students at Laurel Mountain Elementary School worked with professional landscape architects to begin planning the campus’ natural play area, a part of the school’s Tier II Innovative School Grant.
Students completed an eight-week enrichment cluster, which provides an opportunity for in-school classes centered on their interests each week, to plan the outdoor space.
Laurel Mountain received a Tier II Innovative School Grant from Round Rock ISD to create the natural play area, which will include sensory-play features, an outdoor classroom and performance amphitheater and trail improvements around the campus. With that in mind, students in the enrichment cluster were challenged to dream big and work with the architects to build a play area fit for all students.
“Student voice is an integral part of our campus culture, so incorporating our students into this planning process was a natural fit,” Laurel Mountain Principal Jan Richards said. “I am incredibly impressed by the hard work and thoughtfulness taken to create a flexible learning space for students to have fun while enriching their education.”
Students learned the concepts of landscape architecture before surveying the land to find any issues that would affect the final plan. The groups included the features already in the initial plan and added a range of features to the conceptual plans. From a zipline and tire swing to a rain garden and edible garden, the students used knowledge from the land survey to present final plans during the campus enrichment showcase Dec. 9.
“We drafted most of the projects ourselves,” said Jackson Baker, Laurel Mountain fifth-grade student. “We got to learn about erosion and architecture so there wouldn’t be any engineering errors.”
Along with students dreaming big and planning the learning space, they also learned the tools and skills needed to create conceptual plans as an architect. The student groups used markers, architect scale rulers and drafting dots to create professional looking conceptual maps, made to scale so Laurel Mountain and Round Rock ISD staff can continue planning the new learning space.
“Introducing the idea of design and analysis is really valuable for students to understand how systems work,” said Kimberley Doerle, Laurel Mountain parent and professional landscape architect. “The students are really creative at this age and don’t have fear to express their ideas. They really understood big ideas like drainage and scale.”