Nature Play: Design Build Exploration with Children as Co-creators – Fall 2015

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.

Blaine/Southeast Neighborhood Playground in Progress

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(Current Photos of the future park site)

GO FUND ME – The Blaine/Southeast neighborhood association has set up an online fundraiser to help raise the remaining $16,000 needed to build the playground.   The neighborhood’s motto “The Unity of the community gets the job done,” is very true. Please donate and/or share with others!

November 2014 – The Blaine/Southeast neighborhood association was awarded a $15,000 KaBoom playground grant. Residents have formed a playground committee and are currently working to redevelop the old Blaine field adjacent to the Serenity Club, 1215 S. Brotherton, into a new neighborhood playground.

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March 2015 – The KaBoom grant requires that the playground equipment be purchased from one of four pre-selected vendors. The Playground Committee worked with Matt Bailey, former Superintendent of Muncie’s Park’s Department under the McShurley Administration, to select the vendor and the design of the playground. Located in Parker City, IN, Landscape Structures was chosen as the playground equipment vendor based on the quality of their equipment, their commitment to working closely with the neighborhood association during Build Day, and their willingness to help the association maintain the equipment due to their close proximity to Muncie and their strong relationship with the City’s Park’s Department. The Committee also worked with a BSU graduate Landscape Architecture student to place the playground on the field in the most appropriate location.

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April 11, 2015 – A successful clean-up of the field took place from 10:00-12:00. Over 20 volunteers helped clear the field of brush and vegetation in preparation for the fall playground build day. Thank you to all who attended!

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May 03, 2015 – The cleanup of the field continued on the same day as the whole neighborhood cleanup. Volunteers were able to make great progress on removing shrubbery and small trees from the fence line. Another field cleanup day is scheduled for Saturday, May 30th.

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