Build the Ripple — The Playground

Driving Question

How might we partner with the City of New Meadows to enhance the city park?
Grades Involved


What PBE Principles were highlighted in this project?

Community as Classroom, Design Thinking, Inquiry-Based, Interdisciplinary, Learner-Centered

Project Description

The 8th grade helped the City of New Meadows by designing the layout and helping to install playground equipment in Dorsey Warr Memorial Park. We are continuing to build the ripple, and our classmates have worked to improve the park in multiple ways already. We are very excited to partner with the city.

We took a walking field trip to the park to sketch designs and inspect the current equipment. We added a Jumping Jack Play System, an adaptive swing seat, and more swings. We worked closely throughout the project with a landscape architect who served as an expert from our community.

In addition to adding new equipment in the park, we hosted a grand re-opening of the playground for the community. We assembled the playground equipment at the end of September, with a grand-reopening in the first week of October.

We also met with the city officials to learn more about the park and how we can partner together to bring this updated playground to our community. The city officials answered many of our questions and gave us a lot to think about. We found out the current area of the playground and drew up a base map with our layout ideas for the placement of the playground equipment. We were very excited to share our ideas.

Throughout the project, we spoke at city council, parks and recreation, and at school board meetings. We made flyers inviting community members to events to learn more about the project, as well as an invitation inviting the community to the grand reopening of the playground. This project was supported through the Rural Schools Collaborative. We thank them for supporting place-based education!

 How did this positively impact community? How was it shared?

Students worked with city council to improve their local park. Community members and members of the school community were regularly invited to events to learn more about, celebrate, and enjoy the project. Students recognized this as a “pay-it-forward” project, and were proud and excited to make a difference through their learning.


After about 6 weeks, we were able to give a grand re-opening of the playground, where students planned, hosted and gave speeches. We even welcomed back the original students who started the pay-it-forward project. The biggest challenge was starting with a group of students who had not done any place-based work. We had some rough spots and a lot of great teaching opportunities. I had to gear down and teach how to work with community members and city officials. I had to teach some skills that I did not anticipate. Once the students gained more skills, our work onsite was much easier.
For me the most rewarding part is seeing the playground. I am proud and invigorated in my teaching by what students can do with support! In the beginning they did not have the skills to communicate and work toward a common goal. Still, they wanted to make their world a better place, and I want to be there with them.

Words of Wisdom

“It really showed me that classic saying: ‘Don’t be surprised what a small group of people can do!’ I’m just so impressed [with how this has grown] over the past few years. What we did this year with the playground was awesome enough. In the build the ripple projects over the last few years, I’ve just really seen that it’s magnetic…one year does something cool. And then it kind of carries forward and gets a little bigger. Even more people get excited, and then slowly over time everyone gets to experience how cool it is to do meaningful work and to pay it forward. It really showed me again, how in hard times people really do love to come together. The fact that it’s kids leading the charge on this in so many ways is a really good reminder!” -Teresa Rogerson, Landscape Architect and community partner