2013 National Planning Excellence Awards: Public Outreach

Newberg 6th Grade Design Star Program

Newberg, Oregon

The Design Star Program is a learning collaboration between the City of Newberg and local 6th grade students that has engaged students in city planning. The program started as part of the city's outreach efforts during National Community Planning Month and is now an annual collaboration between Newberg city staff and middle school teachers and has been integrated into the curriculum. The program teaches students about why things are organized a certain way in their city, and it allows them to think critically about both the positive and negative impacts of development, the need for jobs in the community, how to differentiate between city wants and city needs, as well as environmental impacts of commuting for jobs and recreation. It also teaches students mapping, writing, presentation, and teamwork skills.

City staff uses GIS mapping technology to show different parts of the community. They then lead a discussion on the difference between city "needs" versus "wants", favorite parts about the city and what Newberg might be missing to make it a great place to live. Students then create a development proposal for one of two vacant sites within the city and present their proposals to the class. Winning proposals are presented to city staff and elected officials.

Design Star project example of a biosphere.