What would our Boston look like if it was a safer, fairer, and more interesting city for children? This question arrives at Boston Public School (BPS) Kindergarten classrooms from the City of Boston Mayor’s Office each spring. The question, and the design prompt that follows, allow students to work together with their classmates, explore their creativity, and think about their city.
Developed by BPS over 10 years ago, Our Boston asks participating classrooms to choose an idea in response to the Mayor's prompt and build a 3’x4’ model showcasing their design. To develop the model, classrooms work through the design process; first, asking questions of their friends and family, then drawing and building their design. Teachers and volunteer architects guide students through the design process and assist with model-making.
As an extension of its partnership through the Kindergarten curriculum, BSA hosts a public exhibition and celebration, Our Boston: Voices from Kindergarten (2019-present), in May. The pop-up exhibition marks the culmination of the Focus on K-2 10-week unit on construction, which houses the BSA’s Kindergarten curriculum, and brings students' ideas about the city to the public. Having adopted the BSA's curriculum and BPS's year-long Focus on K-2 structure, Cambridge Public Schools (CPS) has adapted the prompt to Our Cambridge with the City of Cambridge Mayor's Office.
BSA's commitment to Our Boston is part of its larger effort to build early awareness of architecture/design, promote the youth voice in the city, and extend its partnership with local kindergarten classrooms. Through the exhibition and celebration, BSA provides a forum for students, families, teachers, city administrators, and the public to continue the conversations about architecture beyond the walls of the classroom.
Boston and Cambridge classrooms
Event and exhibition
February: Volunteer interest and intake
March: Volunteer preparation
March-April: Architect classroom visits and project
May: Event and exhibition
Boston Public Schools K-2 Department
Local architects and designers
Thank you to our volunteers for your time and energy in preparing for and visiting local classrooms. Sharing your knowledge and interest in architecture/design with local students is essential to building early awareness of the city and the built environment.
The BSA is seeking volunteer architects and designers to assist in BPS and CPS kindergarten classrooms. Volunteers will visit classrooms to assist the classroom in the design process during the Our Boston extension project. Classroom visits will take place across the city from March to early April and an updated CORI is required to participate.
Share with your network and sign up by Monday, February 19. For more information on this and other volunteer opportunities, check out the BSA Volunteer page.
Thank you to those who have generously supported this program. The program's growth and development were supported by the Cummings Foundation (2020-2022). The public exhibition and event were supported by BXP and Atlantic Wharf (2023). This and other BSA K-12 Design Education programming are supported by the Gordon Educational Fund.
To support this and other public programs, consider donating to the BSA Foundation.
K-12 Design Education
Additional questions about Our Boston or other K-12 Design Education programs? Feel free to reach out to Design Education and Engagement Manager, Taylor Johnson, [email protected].
Learn more about K-12 Design Education