Grade four and five students at Conrad Elementary School undertook the big job of becoming mayor and council members in December with the municipal planning and actual creation of a new neighbourhood in Prince Rupert.
Just under 50 students participated in the development and construction of a gingerbread village. The unique project was all-encompassing with a wide variety of subjects being covered as well as the students having fun in the learning process, Tania Murray vice-principal and teacher said.
“It is a really cross-curricular project in order to have them still be part of the whole Christmas spirit and the whole Christmas design.”
“Part of the social studies curriculum in grade five is to learn about different levels of government, elections, and things,” Murray said. “One idea was to was to make a gingerbread village complete with laws and community.”
Timing of the project coming up to the holidays in the pandemic was apt, Murray said.
“I wanted to start there because our community is in such a heightened space right now that it’s nice to remember how can we connect together as a community when, right now we feel very separated in situations because of the COVID rules,” she said.
“Students learned how we connect together as a community when we can’t be together as one,” Murray said.
The vice-principal connected with the City of Prince Rupert while at the same time the students were learning about municipal so they could connect with their city.
Whether it is a wooden framed house or a gingerbread house, the students had to complete the appropriate processes and applications, learn about building codes and bylaws, just as any developer would, Hans Seidemann manager of building services for the City of Prince Rupert, said.
Staff from the building department assisted with the assignment in a simplified process which was in line with the actual building process a developer would have to follow.
“The students send in their plans for what their new building will be. We have them take the relevant information from those plans and put them into the form. That form will include things like the building setback, the total lot coverage, the area of the footprint of the home, and things like that,” Seidemann said. “And that allows us to check that it meets provincial building codes and that it meets the city’s zoning and building bylaws.”
“By determining what the appropriate setbacks were and what the building footprint area is, the kids can work on, their measurement and their math skills,” he said.
Once the City Hall processes were approved, students had to design and construct their houses and village, as well as have elections for mayor and council members.
“We also have people that are in charge of transportation, that are in charge of parks, that are in charge of environment. So the students get to know all sections of the city areas they have to design and the jobs they would learn about as if they were members of our city community … So it’s been a very intense project, ” Murray said.
The students have a much greater appreciation of what their city does and how it runs Murray said. They have a much more in-depth understanding of how much effort and hard work it is to organize a community with things like homes, roads, and street lighting.
The project also establishes career foundations for the students by helping them to gain knowledge of all the pivotal roles that are important for a society to run.
“It’s important for them to reconnect back to our town and for them to recognize Prince Rupert. To be proud of where they come from, be proud of who they are, and be proud of what they, the next generation is going to bring to our town.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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