Year 6-8 class creates plans for future school entrance

Maramarua students at the school gate.

February 17 2017. Students only had to go as far as the school gate to investigate local transport challenges at a Waikato School.

Late last year, a class of Year 6-8 students at Maramarua School looked at the design of the school entrance and carpark, coming up with short and long-term plans for its future.

“We had a few issues with people driving in fast and there was nowhere safe for kids to walk,” says Haidee, one of the students.

Haidee and classmate Mia created a digital presentation of the class’ plans (using Google slides) and talked to the school board of trustees. The class also wrote letters to the NZ Transport Agency about their ideas. The school is located on State Highway 2.

Haidee says the class went out and looked at the carpark layout and observed vehicle and pedestrian movements.

Mia described what they found in her letter to the NZ Transport Agency:

“We want to make it safe for after school when people are crossing the car park. We have identified some of the issues like, unsafe walkways, people parking in unusual places, and driving too fast.”

Haidee says she enjoyed the design process, including working with paper and art supplies to make their plans.

“It’s cool to look at the carpark and then design things. We were thinking of putting in a drop off zone, and separate entrance and exit.”

Redeveloped walkways and a drop-off zone fall into the student’s long term proposal. They also suggested short term measures such as speed bumps at the carpark entrance, and signs such as speed signs, ‘visitor parking’ and ‘don’t even think about parking here’.

Authentic learning

Teacher Terry Watton says the investigation was an inquiry topic that crossed curriculum learning areas.

“It was all about an authentic learning process. They’re trying to do something that is going to make the school a safer place to be.”

He said if there was more time, an extension activity would have been to work with police to use a speed camera at the carpark entrance, and use the resulting data in a statistical enquiry.

As it was, students put multiple skills into action: reading about what other schools had done, writing letters, drawing up plans. They collaborated, thought through their ideas and used language and symbols specific to the context of traffic management. It was deep learning that built on each student’s personal experience of a local challenge.

“It was engaging them because it was authentic and practical learning they could relate to,’ says Terry.

Student investigations part of 2017 competition

Teachers supporting students to enter the Future Transport Competition could follow similar steps to the Maramarua School class. The competition tasks students with investigating challenges and opportunities in transport and then creating games or narrative entries about their ideas for the future.

  • Entrants choose what to investigate –experiences of local transport are a valid starting point.
  • Investigation work can take different forms, depending on which curriculum areas are covered.
  • Digital presentations created in class can led to narrative category entries.
  • Evidence of sharing student ideas in the school community is required. This could include presenting ideas to fellow students, families and whānau, or the school board.

Full competition support is here:

Future Transport Competition