Improving Outdoor Spaces on Campus

Student volunteers from the University of Florida Student Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (SCASLA) met with 7th grade students at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School to discuss improvements the middle schoolers would like to make to the outdoor spaces on their campus.

P.K. Yonge’s leadership contacted UF SCASLA early this summer for help developing outdoor space for their students. UF SCASLA helped these 7th graders, who are members of the Middle School Science and Society Club, determine where the space should be and what it should look like.

Over the summer, UF SCASLA and P.K. Yonge’s leadership identified spaces on the campus that would be appropriate for this project. Then during a recent meeting, the chapter members asked the participating P.K. Yonge students to look at those spaces and draw or write what they imagine would work well there while also reminding them to think of elements such as sun/shade, circulation patterns and planting options.

“This was an opportunity to have the P.K. Yonge students engaged in the process of what landscape architecture is, where they can experience it firsthand by participating in the design process,” UF Department of Landscape Architecture Chair Tina Gurucharri explained. “It is more meaningful for these students because they are helping to design a space they will personally use.”

UF SCASLA will take the drawings and notes made by these 7th graders about the overall experience and develop ideas for the space. These ideas will then be presented to the P.K. Yonge students in a future session.

This project has provided UF SCASLA an opportunity to work on one of its main goals: recruitment and outreach to potential future landscape architecture students.

And according to Dr. Brenda Breil, P.K. Yonge 7th grade science teacher, it was wonderful for her students to be able to try their hand at architectural landscape design. “The greater their exposure to real-world opportunities and practices, the more they become engaged in learning.”