New UC campus attraction will provide a unique, natural environment for the area's youngest learners

November 21, 2011

A tree house, a "sensory" garden, a bird-watching hideaway, a small stream and an observation deck for education researchers - all of these elements and more will be taking shape around Sigma Sigma Commons at the University of Cincinnati, as construction gets started on a PlayScape outdoor laboratory for young children.

The $401,000 project is a partnership between UC's Arlitt Child and Family Research and Education Center, Cincinnati Nature Center and the UC Office of the Architect. The project is expected to be completed in early June.

Construction fencing is now up for the project, located on the north side of French Hall on the Uptown Campus. The contractor on the project is Mark Spaulding Construction.

Victoria Carr, associate professor of education and director of UC's Arlitt Center, explains that these rare but emerging architectural designs support unique learning experiences in the great outdoors, and also provide a considerably different setting than typical urban playgrounds.

The PlayScape primarily holds appeal for children aged three to five. The UC PlayScape will be open to children who attend the Arlitt Center as well as the Cincinnati community.

"The children will be able to do some gardening. They'll sample edible bushes and berries. They'll crawl through a log fort, enhancing their gross motor skills," Carr explains. "They'll be playing and learning in 10,000 square feet of nature, and we put a lot in it. Plus, it's all wheelchair accessible," Carr says.

Also, to support mastery of motor skills, the PlayScape has rocks, trees, hills and other uneven terrain that's unlike the flat surface of urban playgrounds. There will be an area for them gather and hear and share readings. The design is the concept of landscape architects Robin Moore and Rachel Steele Robinson. Robinson has children who formerly attended the Arlitt Center.

At the heart of it all is an examination of how children learn, how these natural settings can enhance learning and how these PlayScapes could be opportunities to build stewards of the environment at an early age.

The project is supported with funding from the UC Ada Hart Arlitt Endowment Fund, the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH), The Procter & Gamble Fund and Zeiser Construction.

Frank Russell, director of the UC Community Design Center and the Niehoff Urban Studio, provided support in the professional development of the architects for the PlayScape project. The center also helped with site selection and a feasibility study.

About the Cincinnati Nature PlayScape Initiative

The Cincinnati Nature PlayScape Initiative partnership was initially supported by a grant from the Harriet Williams Downey Fund at Greater Cincinnati Foundation that was awarded to the Cincinnati Nature Center.

The grant was to: A PNC Grow Up Great science grant provided additional support to the partnership.

Cincinnati Nature Center opened its 1.6 acre Marge & Charles Schott Nature PlayScape last August.
-end-
About the Arlitt Child and Family Research and Education Center

The UC Arlitt Child and Family Research and Education Center is nationally recognized for its approach to teaching and research. Providing more than 85 years of educational excellence for children three-to-five years old, the center is one of the oldest and most diverse preschool programs in the United States. It was the first Cincinnati preschool staffed by teachers who were specifically trained in early childhood education. The center has a blended Head Start and tuition program, serving children of varying cultures, abilities and socioeconomic backgrounds.

University of Cincinnati

Related Learning Articles from Brightsurf:

Learning the language of sugars
We're told not to eat too much sugar, but in reality, all of our cells are covered in sugar molecules called glycans.

When learning on your own is not enough
We make decisions based on not only our own learning experience, but also learning from others.

Learning more about particle collisions with machine learning
A team of Argonne scientists has devised a machine learning algorithm that calculates, with low computational time, how the ATLAS detector in the Large Hadron Collider would respond to the ten times more data expected with a planned upgrade in 2027.

Getting kids moving, and learning
Children are set to move more, improve their skills, and come up with their own creative tennis games with the launch of HomeCourtTennis, a new initiative to assist teachers and coaches with keeping kids active while at home.

How expectations influence learning
During learning, the brain is a prediction engine that continually makes theories about our environment and accurately registers whether an assumption is true or not.

Technology in higher education: learning with it instead of from it
Technology has shifted the way that professors teach students in higher education.

Learning is optimized when we fail 15% of the time
If you're always scoring 100%, you're probably not learning anything new.

School spending cuts triggered by great recession linked to sizable learning losses for learning losses for students in hardest hit areas
Substantial school spending cuts triggered by the Great Recession were associated with sizable losses in academic achievement for students living in counties most affected by the economic downturn, according to a new study published today in AERA Open, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.

Lessons in learning
A new Harvard study shows that, though students felt like they learned more from traditional lectures, they actually learned more when taking part in active learning classrooms.

Learning to look
A team led by JGI scientists has overhauled the perception of inovirus diversity.

Read More: Learning News and Learning Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.