Festival of the Arts Box City Event Teaches Students about Planning a City

pictureFerris State University Architecture and Facility Management students and a group of local elementary school kids allowed their imaginations to run wild as they pondered what Big Rapids could look like.

The Ferris students were joined by Big Rapids elementary school students at Big Rapids City Hall on Feb. 21 to help remake the city. A goal of “Box City” was to educate the younger students about creating and planning a city. Elementary school students, ranging in age from 5 to 11, crafted a variety of buildings using cardboard boxes, construction paper, markers, glitter, beads and pipe cleaners to add to a landscape already created by Ferris students and faculty.

Ferris student Eric Miller, a senior from Freeland, enjoyed his opportunity to see what the elementary school kids could dream up for their community.

“I learned that kids at all ages can have pretty good ideas, too,” he said. “It was impressive.”

Jessica Socolovitch, a sophomore from Cheboygan, was reminded of her childhood as she participated in the event. She witnessed the impact the event had on the kids.

“I enjoyed participating in this event and seeing each kid reminded me that this could make them choose the path of architecture as I did,” she said.

The new Big Rapids was highlighted by two museums, a concert hall, a bookstore, restaurants, bus and train stations, banks, bakeries, factories, high-rises, houses, apartment buildings and numerous parks.

Alaina Stiles, a senior from Ortonville, said “I thought the event was great. Not only did we share something with the children of the community, but we possibly opened up their minds to new experiences and gave them something to think about when they look at buildings.”

Everett, Wash. native Seth Thornton, a Ferris senior, believes the Festival of the Arts event gave his class an opportunity to experience urban planning from a younger perspective.

“The kids were engaged in the project, they were responsive to the suggestions made by each of us,” Thornton said. “It was a lot of fun to work with bright and entertaining children.”

Barryton native Amanda Wahl was interested in and surprised by the ideas the children came up with for their age level. She enjoyed being able to share suggestions as the children built.

“I think the children learned how to form a building and what types of shapes work to make that type of building,” said Wahl, a sophomore.

Wahl’s sentiment was echoed by Joshua Bitson, a junior from Baldwin, who added, “This event gave the students insight into everything that goes with constructing a new building. I liked being able to participate because I am hoping that it sparks the kids’ interest in architecture.”


01 March, 2011