Playground Designers: Session 5 Week 3

What can you learn from a day at the park?

Today, the Heroes were researchers as they explored Chessie’s Big Backyard and Tuckahoe Park. Prior to travel, they planned out the day and designated timekeepers to keep track of the time. A shout-out to the diligence and punctuality of the timekeepers as they kept the group on track all day.

Upon arrival, the Heroes split into groups (each ES Hero paired with a Spark Hero) and started their 30 minutes of play time. At precisely 11:30, the Heroes independently collected their clipboards and started to surveyed park-goers. They asked adults and children how frequently they go to parks and whether they thought parks were important. It takes a lot of courage to reach out, and our Heroes took the plunge and displayed their politeness and maturity. There were several celebrations as groups reached their survey participation goals.

The second part of the day was spent at Tuckahoe Park. Heroes again surveyed park-goers and spent some time finding simple machines around the playground. They designed a new playground structure and compared the two playgrounds, all in preparation for creating their own playground element.

At the end of the day, it was a joyous time spent in the sunshine. There were academic challenges and important moments of growth. I saw a Hero reach out and play catch with a young child, gently leading him in play. Another Hero included a 3-year old on the merry-go-round, quickly switching from fast-paced spinning to a gentle turn to support the toddler. Heroes made decisions about what was safe and not- negotiating the play structures and figuring out the safe boundaries to the park as well (within eyesight of a guide).

Today made me think that first and foremost, our Heroes are learning how to think for themselves. I wasn’t asked to manage my time or make decisions about my day until high school, and it felt like responsibility hit me all at once. Imagine in 10 years, our Heroes will have made thousands of critical decisions and what capable individuals they will be.

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