Memory Map Group Project 


 Valley View Elementary


Luisa Martinez & Lillian Contreras


    A memory map is cognitive mapping of geographic landscape.  A memory map transpires each individualís feelings, vivid memories, and places of sentiment onto the maps they create.  These maps carve out the meaning onto the land, both physical and memorable.  These maps become works of art drawn out from the artistís personal memory and experiences.

    We wanted to sample this technique at an elementary school in South Phoenix.  We were curious if the revitalization of the neighborhood would be evident in the cognitive mapping.  Also, as outsiders we wanted to see what places in these studentsí neighborhoods were of sentiment?

    We searched and found a teacher that grew up in South Phoenix.  She teaches sixth grade at Valley View Elementary.  This was a definite asset because she agreed to do a memory map herself along side her six graders.  We would be able to compare and contrast the landscape on her memory maps to her students.         

     We arrived at the school after the students lunch hour and before their school dance.  So the kids were somewhat restless but still cooperative.  The first member of our group passed out copies of their memory map so the students had a visual description of a memory map.  The second member of our group lectured the sixth graders about the history of the memory map idea and drew a memory map of their own on the chalkboard and described each place of sentiment to the class.  The third member of our group help kids individually with any immediate questions and helped them one on one with their memory maps. 

    The students of Valley View were excellent artists.  They mapped their community with their own thoughts and views.  These students mapped on paper with complete innocence.  They placed things on their memory map that stood out in their minds.  Some items on the maps they associated with directly and others indirectly.  For example, the maps contained houses of friends that they visit and play with directly.  They also had areas they didnít associate with but were aware of indirectly like a drug dealerís house, lot with junk cars, or a yard with mean dogs.      

    In analyzing and comparing the students maps of the present and Mrs. Robinsonís map of the past we viewed similarities.  The majority of students as well as Mrs. Robinson placed South Mountain Park on their maps.  This proved that the Mountains are definitely an important factor of this community then and now.  Mrs. Robinsonís map had places on her map that were similar to that of her students like friends and relativeís houses, church, and school.  It is evident that in this community friends and relatives live close by in the vicinity and church and school still plays a vital role.  Over all there wasnít much difference in Mrs. Robinsonís map of the past and the students map of the present.  We were not surprised by these findings, because their neighborhood is just recently becoming a revitalized area after years of neglect.   These students do not live in the revitalized areas, they live in the older homes and apartments so the benefits of revitalization hasnít trickled down to these young residents yet. 

                     We Would like to extend a special Thank You to Mrs. Robinson's

 6th Grade Class at

 Valley View Elementary School in South Phoenix for participating in 

our Memory Map project.


Memory Maps (click on link)

The 6th graders of Valley View are artists of their own memory maps!