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Fifth Grade Ethnographers April 14, 2009

Posted by Ruth Silver in Check it out, Exercise 5: Psychogeographics.

Mesa Elementary School students spent the afternoon exploring their school in a way they never had before. They used blindfolds, walkers, ear plugs and wheelchairs to complete everyday tasks in their classroom and library, and while playing outside. The exercise is intended to teach them empathy and help them understand how the school, and its playground, could be more inclusive.

Mesa Principal Josh Baldner wants student suggestions to help drive playground improvements, and volunteers from the University of Colorado’s architecture schools are helping with the project.

David Leserman, a retired Boulderite who uses a manual wheelchair, volunteered at the south Boulder school Friday afternoon, helping relay to students what it’s like to use a wheelchair full-time.

“How are you doing?” Leserman asked Brendan, who was taking a break after spending a few minutes in the wheelchair.

“My arms are getting tired,” Brendan admitted. Leserman explained that using a wheelchair builds strong arms.

The 70 Mesa fifth-graders are keeping journals of the challenges they have faced while simulating impairments, and they have been tasked with brainstorming ways to make their school more friendly for their peers with disabilities.



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