Design of Learning Spaces

What if we gave students a chance to see that their ideas can make a difference in the world? In a place they all know, where they spend their days, where they could see the impact of their work? What if we asked them to rethink school?


In collaboration with UWM’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning and Center for Student Experience and Talent, we’re lining up industry and community community partners to support a multi-year effort aimed at building a deeper and more diverse pool of talent coming into Higher Ed with an interest in architecture and related fields. During our initial experiment this spring of 2023 we placed 128 architecture students in service learning roles within 15 Milwaukee area schools. The UWM students used that experience to develop design proposals for the schools they worked in to address issues and opportunities they uncovered.

This school year, our challenge to middle and high school students is to:

  • Identify a space within their school where the current design or configuration of that space fails in some way to meet the needs of its users.
  • Document the issue(s) they have identified as a problem statement that will be the focus of their design efforts
  • Propose a design solution to address the problem they have identified


Participating teachers will have full access to the Community Engaged PBL Framework materials for this challenge. These materials were developed over the summer with input from teachers and industry professionals. However, teachers will have the flexibility to adjust how they will implement this framework,  to respond to opportunities and constraints at their school. Additionally, they will also benefit from the experience of other participating teachers through regular check-ins, and events involving multiple schools.



Timing & Deliverables

Fall Semester:

  • Identify an area of focus, the issues to be addressed and a digital model of the existing space
  • Problem review with stakeholders and outside expertise

Spring Semester:

  • Develop a design solution to address the issues identified during the fall semester.
  • Develop and digital and physical model of your design solution
  • Pitch your solution to stakeholders and outside expertise


Learn Deep will:

  • Work with participating teachers. Talk through implementation and identify specific needs they have, in order to work within curriculum and schedule requirements at their school, and address specific goals they have for involvement with the project.
  • Coordinate placement of UWM Architecture students as near peer mentors for design work with each participating school during the spring semester.
  • Recruit outside reviewers for problem and design review sessions
  • Create opportunities to collaborate with students from other participating schools
  • Organize Field experiences with program partners
  • Coordinate a year review and project pitch event
  • Host a virtual platform (read more on the inspirEd page or  visit inspirEd) where we moderate check-in meetings and on-line collaboration among participating teachers.


The challenge will be open to middle and high schools in greater Milwaukee with a teacher that can commit to participating over the 2023-24 school year. Limited to 8 schools and no more than 200 students.

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