Throughout the mid-winter and into the early spring, first graders took a deep dive into understanding what inclusivity truly means. To begin, they learned about various disability rights advocates and athletes such as Kitty Lund, a renowned ballerina who uses her wheelchair to dance. With guidance from their teachers, the students developed questions about the world around them, such as, “What might people with different physical abilities need to access certain places?” First graders then took their questions to Central Park, where they carefully considered what adjustments might need to be made to create playgrounds that were more accessible for all. With fresh ideas in mind, they returned to the classroom to ideate and sketch based on the observations they made during their field research.
Drawing on principles of STEM and design thinking, and using materials such as recycled cardboard, masking tape, and pipe cleaners, first grade engineers created scaled versions of common playground equipment that they had reimagined to accommodate people of all abilities. Some of their ideas included wheelchair-accessible slides with guardrails and larger swings so people could sit with others if they needed assistance. At the end of their unit, the students held a showcase for members of the lower school community to learn more about their innovative ideas for more inclusive playground designs.