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Walnut valley Unified School District

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Chaparral Students Get Lesson in City Planning

NEWS                                                                                    Walnut Valley Unified School District
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                             880 S. Lemon Avenue
September 13, 2013                                                            Walnut, CA 91789

Kelli Gile, Office of Community Resources
(909) 595-1261 ext. 31204

Chaparral Students Get a Lesson in City Planning

DIAMOND BAR, CA—Chaparral Middle School students learned about urban planning from City of Diamond Bar officials on September 12.

Mayor Jack Tanaka and Public Information Coordinator Cecilia Arellano were invited to speak with 60 students in the Design-Based Learning (DBL) core.

They met in one of the four connecting state-of-the-art classrooms that feature loft-high ceilings, exposed pipes and skylights located in the school’s new science wing that opened in August.

The 6th grade inquirers were anxious to learn these important details from the experts because they are building their own cities.

The guests talked about urban planning and the role of the city council and mayor.

Arellano also shared the history of the city that was formally the Diamond Bar Ranch and how it eventually became a master-planned residential community.

“In the 1960’s Transamerica promoted Diamond Bar as a place to go to get away from the city,” she said. 

“One of my favorite parts is being able to meet with people, coming to classes like today hearing young and fresh ideas and hearing what everyone is thinking to improve the city,” Mayor Tanaka said.

“There’s no better city to be living in. Diamond Bar features numerous recreational activities, programs, parks, sports and very outstanding schools,” Tanaka said.

“We’re at home here,” he added. The Mayor shared how the monitoring and cycling of city lights aids when inclement weather or any other conditions arise that cause extra traffic on the streets.

Science and math teacher Maggie Strand said all the kids were shocked when they learned the percentage considered open space also includes parks in the city while they were plotting their cities.

”We didn’t realize that open space and parks were the same. We would have labeled them differently,” she said.

The Mayor fielded numerous questions including what are the future plans for the city? How much does a new light post cost? Is there a water tower in the city? How much does a landfill hold? What should we expect to see in our city when we become adults and are raising our own families in 10-20 years? Do you ever get a day off? Have you met any celebrities? Do you always wear a tuxedo?

“The kids asked a ton of questions because they are building their own cities. Today’s lesson definitely provided a deeper understanding for what we are trying to do,” Strand said.

Design-Based Learning integrates hands-on work, problem solving, collaborative teamwork and innovative creative designs.

“This year, the 6th grade program is incorporating more Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) with the Future City Competition,” said humanities teacher Sherry Robertson.

Students are designing and building functional virtual cities using SimCity software and will be constructing scaled down models in coming months. 

“Students become mayors assigned with the job of developing functional cities with populations of 50,000. They plan residential zones and build roads for the virtual cities,” Robertson said.

They also create three-dimensional models, write narratives with the history of their cities, along with several additional content area activities. The project culminates with the Future City Competition at regional and national levels.

“The beautiful thing is that the design challenges tie directly into our standards. When we teach about a concept, our students immediately have background knowledge to attach the new learning to resulting in long-term learning,” Robertson said.

For example, we learn in Social Studies that Mesopotamia had issues controlling their water source that led to one of the first known irrigation systems, she explained

“The students connect with this issue because one of the first problems they must solve in SimCity is to decide where and what their water source is going to be. If they make the wrong choice, they could possibly pollute their source or tap it dry, causing people to leave and bankrupt their city,” she said.


City of Diamond Bar Mayor Jack Tanaka visited with 6th graders at Chaparral Middle School on September 12. The students in the Design-Based Learning core are building virtual cities in a new the STEM project. 

Communication Specialist Cecilia Arellano presented city planning information to the Chaparral DBL students. 

Chaparral sixth graders had lots of questions for the Mayor of Diamond Bar.

City of Diamond Bar Mayor Jack Tanaka with Chaparral Design-Based Learning sixth grade students and teachers.