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RMS Students Create Traffic Gardens for Local Park

RMS Students Create Traffic Gardens for Local Park

Sixth graders in Megan Bluma’s STEAM classes are practicing engineering design through a class project with a real impact. In partnership with our Safe Routes to School program, students worked through the steps to design a traffic garden within a specific set of guidelines, which will come to life this spring in the hockey rink at Donaldson Park. During the project, students learned about scale factors, digital design and paper/pencil drafting, while practicing engineering skills like brainstorming, iterating, giving and receiving feedback, and collaborating with each other. 

“What made this project particularly meaningful and exciting was that the students were asked to do this creative problem-solving, skill development and critical thinking for the benefit of their local community,” explained STEAM teacher Megan Bluma. “I think the RMS sixth graders will be excited to see their work come to life in the spring when the RPS Traffic Gardens launch!”

In small groups, students created their own traffic garden designs that met the specifications of the project. Classes will host a special visitor in March: Matt Hardegger, City Traffic Engineer for the City of Richfield! Matt will provide feedback to students on their initial designs, and then classes will work together to develop a final traffic garden design. 

Traffic gardens are small-sized streets, with scaled-down traffic features like lanes, crosswalks, roundabouts (hello, Richfield!) and more. The goal is to provide a place for children and other new learners to practice navigating streets with no motor vehicles in the area. The traffic gardens designed by RMS students are temporary, meaning they will be installed in the spring and hopefully last through the summer and into fall. 

Being located at Donaldson Park, this traffic garden will be available to the entire community 24/7. Our Safe Routes to School Coordinator, Tim Brackett, plans to use the space for bike lessons with the fleet of RPS balance bikes. 

"Providing students with an area to practice navigating streets without motor vehicles in the area will help these students build life-long skills for using our streets safely, no matter what mode of transportation they are using," said Tim. "Empowering our middle school students to design traffic gardens gives them hands-on experience building something they can use and that benefits the community."

Our Safe Routes to School program has been using a version of traffic gardens inside elementary school gyms to help students in grades K-3 learn to use the RPS balance bikes and bike fleet. While traffic gardens can look like obstacle courses, they actually lead to improved safety habits and increased confidence for students as they get older and begin traveling to school on their own. 

With this project, students not only learned engineering skills but worked on a project with a real-life impact on our community, taking student voice to the next level. Thanks to their creativity and vision, kids from all over Richfield will be able to enjoy the traffic garden this year. We can’t wait to see how it turns out!

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