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Lakeside Learning Lab

Sand Lake Park (SLP) is nestled between Sand Lake and Sand Lake Elementary (SLE) school on the west end of Anchorage, Ak. With 5.1 acres of green space, two docks, and a paved trail adjacent to the school the access to the outdoors should be easy but not enough classes take advantage of this opportunity. Many of our families are also unaware. 6th graders in my classes are partnering to improve our park through the Sand Lake Makeover Project, which actually began last year with my '15-'16 students. They are in the midst of designing a Lakeside Learning Lab to serve as an extension to our classrooms and to improve the park for the community.

My students’ work began last year when we officially adopted SLP. While small, SLP is important to the community. The roughly 2 miles of shoreline are almost entirely bordered by private property limiting public access to the lake. For this reason, the park provides an excellent access point to the lake and is crucial to providing recreational and educational opportunities in the area, especially for the SLE. Residents use the lake for boating, fishing, and general outdoor enjoyment. In addition, it is home to a variety of plant and animal life that utilize the habitat in this suburban oasis.

The Lakeside Learning Lab we are designing sits on the southern end of SLP on a hill just above the paved trail. The hill has an approximate 30 ft. by 30 ft. open space surrounded by birch, cottonwood, and spruce trees. The students selected this location because it has an outstanding westward view of the lake, it is relatively flat and is already cleared of many trees.

Students will design, landscape, and oversee construction of the Lakeside Learning Lab. Students will choose the best route to enter and exit the space. Two Anchorage Park Foundation Schools on Trails design professionals are leading students in designing the space.

Funded by Alaska (March 2017)