Academics, Community, Global Learning, Media, Upper School

Imagining a City: Ninth Grade Humanities Students Design Walled Cities Using Maps and Minecraft

This week, ninth grade Humanities students were invited to design imaginative walled cities that incorporate elements of urban design such as streets, green spaces, residential, commercial, and industrial, and/or mixed-use zones.

“We asked the students to apply what they’ve learned about cities and to incorporate one of the five Elements of Society — political, economic, religious, social, and artistic/intellectual,” said Upper School Humanities Instructor Sara Gutmann. “As you can see, they were very creative in their approaches. Some teams used Minecraft while others designed their cities using more traditional poster maps.”

Working in small teams, the students began the week-long project on Tuesday, researching example cities for inspiration and searching for maps, images, elevations, and other sources of information. The next day, the planning began. The students engaged their imaginations as they formulated a founding story for each city, answering questions including: Who founded the city? When? Where and how was it constructed?

The next step was to develop sample maps and sketches as the teams considered how each city might be organized and how each should reflect their element.

“We also added monuments and landmarks to bring our city to life,” said one student. 

On Friday, dressed in an inventive array of Halloween costumes, the students displayed their completed city maps, hosting a gallery walk in Raymond and Chavez, and on the first-floor hallway outside of Feynman.

Paired with each map or computer were informative foundational documents about each city. Some took the form of short stories and poems while others outlined laws or a constitution.

As they perused the gallery, the students added notes to each project, offering comments and accolades to their peers.

By engaging their imaginations and applying their studies to the creation of livable cities, the students were able to make important connections to their own lives. The projects invited them to consider, for instance, how urban design reflects the values of its inhabitants, what forces shape communities, and how design can impact quality of life.

Congratulations to each team on a job well done!

See photos on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NorthwestSchool and Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thenorthwestschool/