Our objective in Geographies of Children was to learn how to interview younger research subjects and to learn how young people interact with the landscapes around them. We worked with elementary aged students by doing walking interviews through a park, mental mapping interviews about their neighborhoods, and photo elicitation interviews about pictures they took with disposable cameras.
We worked with fifth graders at a charter school that has students from across the city from different socioeconomic backgrounds and different neighborhoods. The school’s racial composition is similar to that of the city (which is unusual; most schools are more segregated). The school is located adjacent to a park and students spend time every week in the park. Thus we wanted to look at how students understood the park, a space they share, and how they understand their neighborhoods, which are spaces that they might not share. We were particularly interested in how students talked about nature in the park and in their neighborhoods.
Overall, we found that it was hard to get clear answers to our research question from the kids, but we expected that. The interviews showed a lot about student dynamics between each other, between adults and supervisors, and with nature.