Monday,  Oct 22, 2018,20:49 (GMT+7) 0 0
Nearly 300 students join smart and child-friendly city program
By Minh Tam
Sunday,  Jun 10, 2018,17:24 (GMT+7)

Nearly 300 students join smart and child-friendly city program

By Minh Tam

Two students introduce their smart city scheme at the launch ceremony of the “Children Innovate: Smart and Child Friendly Cities” program - PHOTO: MINH TAM

The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Saigon Innovation Hub (SIHUB) and the HCMC Department of Architecture and Planning have launched a summer program consisting of 11 creative thinking workshops over the summer to engage 275 children aged from 8 to 14 to design and plan smarter and more child-friendly areas in HCMC.

The “Children Innovate: Smart and Child Friendly Cities” program will be facilitated by Arkki School of Architecture for Children and Youth and will also involve vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

Participating children will use basic urban planning materials such as clay, wood, computers, Sketchup and Hololens to develop and express their ideas. Overall, they will learn about design principles, design thinking, architecture and urban planning, and build their 21st century skills through hands-on activities and project teamwork.

In October this year, a week-long exhibition will be organized at the Saigon Innovation Week to showcase all the ideas and projects of children to urban planning experts, decision makers and the public.

“Almost everywhere in the world, the design process is undertaken by adults, while the end-users are often children, such is the case in parks, public areas and schools. Children Innovate: Smart and Child Friendly Cities creates an environment for children to express their opinions and influence decisions that affect them, so that a safe, secure and clean environment, taking into account children’s perspectives, may be provided by urban planning experts and decision-makers,” Marianne Oehlers, chief of the Program Partnerships Office at UNICEF Vietnam, said at the launch ceremony.

Urban planning will change radically in the future and it is now time to engage children as future citizens on how they see the future of the city. The use of architecture and design thinking can be an inspiration for young learners who embrace hands-on learning, multi-sensory learning and experimentation. This approach will equip them with necessary 21st century skills, such as critical thinking, creativity, teamwork, collaboration and communications.

According to the Department of Planning and Architecture of HCMC, this is an interesting and meaningful educational program. It can incorporate practical contents to educate children on the city's urban environment like flooding and pollution, and take further actions to develop children's creativity towards sustainable and smart urban development.

Hoang Mai Anh, a sixth grader of Tran Van On School who has just attended the first workshop of the program, said: “The teachers are very cheerful and always ready to explain what I do not know. We have learned different ways to build a child-friendly city from our own views.”

Architecture offers endless possibilities in STEAM education by holistically intertwining science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics through architecture activities.

“The Arkki program fosters hands-on building, creative problem solving and 3D construction. It aims to develop personal creativity and encourage individual and collaborative learning. We have the pleasure to work with UNICEF and SIHUB to enable children to participate in the decision-making process and thereby build their own future environment,” said Pihla Meskanen, founder and director of Arkki International.

When 65% of future jobs are still unknown, what the program is facilitating today for children should be life-long learning, and the ability to create and innovate. With such mandate, this joint partnership program is opening up opportunities for children to participate, engage, learn, create and make their voices heard.

“Creative education is the very long-term foundation for the future Vietnamese generations to integrate into the world,” said Huynh Kim Tuoc, co-founder and CEO of Saigon Innovation Hub.

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