SchoolArts Magazine

September 2015

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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F O C U S I N The Design Connections Partnership PAGE SPONSORED BY: T he Design Connections Partner- ship (DCP) is an innovative five- y ear design education initiative for grades one through five at ten Public Schools in the New Haven, Connecticut Public Schools (NHPS). Nearly 600 students and educators par - ticipate each year. It has been funded b y the National Endowment for the Arts, the Connecticut Office of the Arts, and community foundations. DCP and STEM The overall goal of DCP is to use archi - tecture and design as a problem-solving tool. The program integrates math- ematics learning with sequential and c omprehensive art and design-based learning to create standards-based science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) lessons. The program is also designed to encourage students to apply academic concepts in authentic tasks, develop twenty-first century skills, and develop a sense of community participation. Solving Design Problems Students participate in five to eight, ninety-minute classroom workshops. During each workshop, students solve a design problem and communicate their solutions with drawings, models, written summaries, and oral presenta - tions. Personnel orchestrate the devel- opment of a classroom instructional u nit and learning activities for families of participating students, exhibits of student work, neighborhood walking tours, and national design education conference presentations. My Neighborhood © DCP's fifth-grade project, My Neigh- borhood, is an interdisciplinary w orkshop in architecture, design, and community planning wherein students work together to create a neighborhood map. Buildings, spaces, and habitats serve as the vehicle for learning within the context of art, mathematics, science, and social stud - ies learning objectives. Working together, students measure and construct symbols (streets, side- walks, trees, river, boats, picnic tables, t raffic lights, etc.), and design a scaled map reflective of their school neigh- borhood. Each student plans, designs, d evelops, measures, and constructs a cardboard building model and com- pletes a scaled drawing of the exterior walls of their design solutions, which is used for real-world problem solving concerning perimeter, area, and cost. T his project allows students to learn about the team of people involved in creating the spaces in their commu - nity, participate in hands-on activities a bout structural and mechanical build- ing systems, and learn about the latest m aterials and methods of construction. Students determine where their homes are situated on the map and use grid coordinates to record their location on the bottom of their model. Answering the Question DCP demonstrates to teachers how navigating the design process can help them integrate STEM concepts while activating a curriculum based on real-life applications. By connect - ing learning to daily life, DCP models h ow design-based thinking can become a mode of thinking across numerous subjects and may finally answer the perennial question, "Why will I ever need to know this?" Anna Sanko is the founder and executive director of the Architecture Resource Center. annasanko @ Donna Murray-Tiedge teaches at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. murraytd@ W E B L I N K Anna Sanko and Donna Murray-Tiedge DCP is designed to encourage students to appl cademic concepts in authentic tasks, develop twent -first centur skills, and develop a sense of communit participation. 40 SEPTEMBER 2015 SchoolArts

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