A2STEAM @ Northside students design their own playground

How many students get the chance to design their own playground?

That’s exactly what’s happening at A2STEAM @ Northside, where students on Saturday will present a large-scale model of the playscape they’ve designed to a landscape architect.

“It was an easy connection—what child wouldn’t want the opportunity to design their own playground?” asked Arts and Design Teacher Rachael Van Dyke, who is leading the project. “At A2STEAM we believe in what is called an authentic audience. For the children to have this real-world opportunity really created an amazing synergy among the students of creative ideas, team work and collaboration, and well crafted large-scale models.”


Principal Joan Fitzgibbon couldn’t be more thrilled with the student models.

“This encompasses the very heart of what we are trying to accomplish at A2STEAM,” she said. “Collaboration, creativity and real world problem solving that empowers our students through their input and design.”

The school is now under heavy construction as new classrooms and a full size middle school gymnasium are being built. Part of that construction meant having to tear out the current playground.

“Our students decided that they wanted to design and build the new playground in more of a playscape fashion,” explained Ryan Bruder, Lead Teacher at A2STEAM @ Northside. “A playscape uses the natural topography of the land, natural elements and also takes in to consideration spaces to play with peers or places to play individually.”

Students have drawn, painted and built model playscapes in this project-based learning project done in collaboration with MFA Candidate Laura Amtower from the University of Michigan’s Penny M. Stamps School of Art & Design.

Students will be consulting with landscape architect Carey Baker, Beckett & Raeder Landscape Architecture Planning, Engineering & Environmental Services, and then propose final concepts to the playscape committee.

-5Construction on the playscape will begin this summer.

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