CCMS Career Day 2010

April 23rd was Career Day at Culver Community Middle School.  As discussed here earlier, I volunteered to speak as a Landscape Architect since April is National Landscape Architecture Month.  The schedule called for me to speak to five different groups of kids in 20 minute time slots. 

Speaking for 20 minutes wasn’t really a big deal, though it was hard to decide what level of detail would be interesting to 7th graders.  Of course the nightmare scenarios were 1)  a sea of blank staring faces or; 2)  a horrible reinactment of “Are You Smarter Than a 7th Grader” with me as the brunt of the joke.  As it turned out, the worst part was a planning mistake on my part.  I was right that 20 minutes of material wasn’t a big deal, but by the time I was doing the third presentation I began to forget whether I was repeating myself since I remembered saying it before to the previous group.  By the end, I also realized that I wasn’t used to  talking that much!  My throat was actually a little dry and scratchy.

Neither nightmare scenario came true.  I survived it.  With a few exceptions, it was pretty much a monologue though.  I explained why I was there, which was mostly because when I was in school I didn’t know what a Landscape Architect was.  I asked each group if anyone knew what a Landscape Architect was and only one student claimed to know.  Even my supervising teacher, Cheryl Giek, didn’t know.  When I gave her the quick summary before the first group came in she was disappointed that she wasn’t going to get plant tips.  Sorry!

The classroom was a geography classroom and Mrs. Giek teaches that subject.  I was able to tie that into the discussion regarding the varied levels of planning performed by Landscape Architects.  I brought an example of a Conceptual Plan for a development in Culver, which gave them a local connection.

I then went to a white board and sketched how I would take someone through site development on a home site.  I sketched a simple, straight line plan and then told them that was boring.  I explained the factors that went into improving it.  Looking at views and vistas, considering the location of the sun in the summer vs. winter, considering the location of neighboring buildings.  I briefly discussed the issues with setbacks and zoning requirements.  I then showed them how this would change when you went from a simple rectangular lot to a cul-de-sac lot or other irregular shaped piece of property.  I discussed plantings in a general fashion illustrating how they affected what you see and what you want to hide.  I spent a little time tying together site design with the “Green” movement and how good site design can promote energy efficiency.

There seemed to be some interest, though I felt sorry for Ms. Giek.  I would guess she didn’t need me to do the presentation the 4th & 5th times!  All and all it was a good experience.  I would consider doing it again.

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