As a teacher, I am lucky enough to live out that dream. I design the future every single day. Actually, my students design the future, I just help them realize their talents to do so. I don't know how many of my students have experienced the absolute delight of Disney's magical parks, but they are going to experience Walt's final visions by the end of this school year!
As with every year previous to this new venture in teaching I've embarked upon, my students will present their final designs to a public audience. They will pitch their design solutions (read more about this on the "About" page) at the two trade shows to be hosted in Greer and Greenville in the Winter and Spring. Part of their final, all inclusive presentation will be a theme park modeled digitally and physically to represent all of the labs students participate in. Our yearlong partners from local industry, government, and community organizations will be asked to "sponsor" each attraction developed to excite our audiences about our solutions. Partner names will appear on the signage for each attraction in the theme park.
While this project is highly inspired by EPCOT, the Magic Kingdom and Dollywood, the students will be expected to craft unique architecture, signage, landscapes, water features, and walk/driveways. They must incorporate transit systems to, from and within the park, which could easily be sponsored by BMW, CUiCAR and Michelin. The iSoPoTech (Infrastructure and Socio-Political Technologies) area could be sponsored by the Greater Greer Chamber of Commerce, SCDOT and Greenville Water. When I say "sponsor" I do not mean they need to actually buy the space in our digital and physical maps and prototypes. By offering learning experiences, they are sponsoring our designed future. We would be more than grateful.
This is not exactly a novel idea. In fact, student designed theme park models have been a mainstay of project-based learning for a long time. Ours is different. By partnering with regional groups, we learn from multiple sources how to solve our very specific, individually identified problems through whole lab challenges. When we put each solution together as a theme park, we essentially create a fun thinking map of how all of our problems and solutions are actually interconnected. After all, one of the purposes of education is to draw connections between people, resources, and problems to arrive at a new frame of mind. EPCOT did that for me as a child. Can our project do that for us as teaching and learning teams?
Homework due on 3/9/15: Watch the videos below and look at the map of EPCOT. Write a couple of sentences about one attraction you want to create at our own theme park. It needs to be about your lab. Create sketches (no more than two) which depict your attraction.
Example images below: