Today I dropped by Preston Street Primary School to witness another great event which has continued a mutually beneficial relationship with the local community outside the university. PLOPS! (Play and Learning Outdoors at Preston Street workshop and project) is a project headed by Dr Ola Uduku, Tiago Torres Campos, both lecturers at the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and John Telford, a lecturer in Outdoor and Environmental Education at Moray House School of Education. Assisting them were other members of staff and students, undergraduates and postgraduates, from throughout the university, especially landscape architectural students.
The event, which has transformed the rear playground of the school, follows on from a similar one last year which worked on the front playground of the school. The goals for this years’ event were,
- To design and build facilities that the children could use to store play items in the playground sheds.
- To design and build items that can engage the school children in the natural world around them, such as, a wormery, planters and a bird box.
- To design and create wall spaces for the children to use such as chalkboards.
- Finally, colour was added to the playground with a series of murals with which the children could engage.
Work began this Monday with a series of workshops and brainstorming sessions to plan tasks to be completed by the end of the week. There followed a democratic decision making process as everybody got to vote on what they thought the final plans should be to achieve the projects’ set goals for the week. Afterwards, everybody picked whatever aspect of the project interested them the most ensuring every job has been approached enthusiastically! And, importantly, it’s also guaranteed that everybody involved in the project has had a really enjoyable time this week.
For many of the students, this is their first experience of getting involved in projects which reach out to the community and there was no previous experience necessary to become part of the team. Furthermore, one of the great aspects of this project is that many of the school children’s ideas and requests have been taken into account and incorporated into the project.
Today is the final day of the project and when I attended the last jobs were just being completed. And later on many of the pupils, parents and school staff will be attending for an unveiling and well-deserved celebration. The students and staff, who have whole-heatedly dedicated themselves this week working every day from 9-4, are really pleased with the results. And they are delighted how much brighter and colourful the space not looks for the children to enjoy themselves in!
Written by Rae Kenny, ILW Student Ambassador