Pam Harwood, of the Ball State University Department of Architecture, led teams of students from various majors in this Immersive Learning project designed to combine learning and playtime for Muncie children.
“Our children are the first generation to be raised without meaningful contact with the natural world,” wrote Richard Louv. This project presented a variety of small-scale design-build opportunities for interdisciplinary teams of students to develop into innovative play elements for a nature-based outdoor learning environment at Head Start’s preschool in Muncie. An integration of design, making, teaching, and learning was paramount in this elective. Whether using salvaged timbers for a series of small bridges in the wetlands, or re-harvested wood in the knowledge wall, sustainable construction and environmental education was the goal of this nature-based preschool environment. Age-appropriate activity settings were co-created with children in a user-centered manner, where the approach to learning was gently guided, open-ended explorations in sensitively constructed learning spaces and natural habitats.