1. Victoria Carr
  2. Professor
  3. STEM in the Playscape: Building Knowledge for Educational Practice
  4. University of Cincinnati
  1. Rhonda Brown
  2. http://cech.uc.edu/education/employees.html?eid=brownro
  3. Associate Professor
  4. STEM in the Playscape: Building Knowledge for Educational Practice
  5. University of Cincinnati
  1. Heidi Kloos
  2. http://uc.edu/ccrl
  3. Assistant Professor
  4. STEM in the Playscape: Building Knowledge for Educational Practice
  5. University of Cincinnati
  1. Leslie Kochanowski
  2. Academic Researcher
  3. STEM in the Playscape: Building Knowledge for Educational Practice
  4. University of Cincinnati
  1. Catherine Maltbie
  2. Research Associate
  3. STEM in the Playscape: Building Knowledge for Educational Practice
  4. University of Cincinnati
  1. Sue Schlembach
  2. Assistant Professor
  3. STEM in the Playscape: Building Knowledge for Educational Practice
  4. University of Cincinnati
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Judy Brown

    Judy Brown

    Informal Educator
    May 13, 2018 | 06:02 p.m.

    Hello Victoria

    Really enjoyed your presentation.  We are working with a similar age group and wondered if you could share what science concepts  you are focusing on or that are emerging in your nature play scapes?

  • Icon for: Victoria Carr

    Victoria Carr

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2018 | 08:59 p.m.

    Thank you, Judy. We are focused on informal science and see the children engaged in inquiry quite often. Concepts around life sciences - plants, insects, properties of living things, etc. and physical science - properties of materials, motion, stability, etc, are most prevalent. However, data show a significant number of instances of emerging inquiry skills related to focused observations, explorations, collections, problem-solving, and more. We are also interested in how playscapes support the development of spatial cognition and executive function.

  • Icon for: Victoria Carr

    Victoria Carr

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2018 | 09:18 p.m.

    Welcome to our presentation! 

    This research project builds upon an AISL project (DRL#1114674) that investigated preschoolers’ self-directed STEM-related play experiences in outdoor nature-based playscapes. An emerging trend, nature-based playscapes have great potential for exposing young children to STEM-related phenomena, concepts, and processes in a variety of early childhood education settings, including daycare centers, pre-schools, playgrounds, and children’s museums. In contrast to traditional playgrounds, playscapes are designed to result in complex, sensory-rich environments in which extensive access to natural materials and resources inspires young children’s investigative and exploratory behaviors. This study explores the hypothesis that play in nature provides young children (ages 3-5) with extensive contact with science content and that a play-based curriculum could expand opportunities for STEM learning.  This Research-in-Service of Practice project aims are to: 1) design, implement, and evaluate four digital play-based professional development curriculum modules for pre-school educators across multiple partner sites; 2) research the impact of professional training on educators' facilitation of STEM content and activities; 3) examine the impacts of play-based facilitation on young children's understanding of and engagement with STEM; and 4) evaluate the transferability and sustainability of new playscape design principles at three partner sites. 

  • Icon for: Kevin Brown

    Kevin Brown

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 10:48 a.m.

    A really exciting new area for building on children's natural curiosity and ability to learn through play! I’m wondering if you’ve been able to extract any lessons learned or basic principles for designing effective playscapes or for scaffolding educator’s facilitation of learning through play? Also, have you found any observable differences in young children’s play behavior or educator’s differential engagement with boys and girls that might help account for gender disparities in STEM that show up in later years?

  • Icon for: Victoria Carr

    Victoria Carr

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 03:33 p.m.

    Kevin,

    One of our measures used in our study is behavior mapping.  We created an iPad app for each playscape map.  We collected over 1000 data points for each playscape.  We can analyze these data by gender, age, behavior zone, and more. We can also triangulate behavior mapping data with video and interview data. This is currently underway.   For teacher education, we are creating online modules about play, inquiry, and playscape.  We plan to roll these out to the public next year.  They will be free for ECE stakeholders to use. 

  • Icon for: Mark Windschitl

    Mark Windschitl

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 12:56 p.m.

    Victoria, I was wondering what collaborations are necessary to create a play-scape, for example are landscape architects part of your team? I was assuming that the setting is designed, but that may not be the case. I have collaborated myself with architects in the past when desgining learning environments and found that they speak such a different and vitalizing language that it helped us all think more creatively together.

  • Icon for: Victoria Carr

    Victoria Carr

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 03:24 p.m.

    Mark, 

    yes! I agree with your view of working with landscape architects.  We began the playscape project by working with Robin Moore, Professor of Landscape Architecture at North Carolina State and director of the Natural Learning Initiative. He conducted workshops for local landscape architects. We are currently working with Rachel Robinson, LA, in Cincinnati to create “mini-playscapes” at our research partners’ sites. Rachel was a participant in Robin Moore’s workshop about 8 years ago.  

     

  • Icon for: Megan McKinley

    Megan McKinley

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 04:34 p.m.

    Hello, Victoria. This sound like an incredibly interesting and much needed project-- especially in light of the reduction of playtime in schools. Could you talk a little more about the outcomes related to risk-taking and what factors within the playscape encouraged or hindered risk-taking?

    What challenges have you run into that you plan to address when implementing playscapes at other school sites? I also wonder about implications of this work for schools, and specifically for schools that are located in urban areas with less green space.

  • Icon for: Victoria Carr

    Victoria Carr

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 03:03 p.m.

    Megan,

    Thank you for your positive comment.  Through teacher focus groups and teacher journals, we learned teachers had to “let go of the What ifs.”  Eg. What if the children skin their knees, get wet, etc. teachers were then more willing to step back and let children take risks, but it was uncomfortable at first.  Playscapes are designed with uneven surfaces and, if lucky, trees for climbing and contain loose parts such as sticks and rocks. Flowers attract bees (a concern for some) and one of the playscapes we use has patches of poison ivy ( not that we would put that into a design!). Yet, opportunities for children to be physically challenged is considered in design. We enlist the services of landscape architects to ensure toxic plants are not used in design. In our teacher professional learning modules, we address assessing risk versus hazard - a concept that provides parameters for letting children mitigate their own risk (something we have seen regularly when teachers do not interfere). 

    One reason we think playscapes are a good paradigm for preschool and child care play spaces is so children, especially in urban areas, have opportunities to connect with nature. Hope this answers your questions. 

  • Icon for: Mark Windschitl

    Mark Windschitl

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 03:48 p.m.

    Victoria's comment reminds me about an article in the NY Times about how the UK is bringing back some of the risk for children in how playgrounds are designed: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/10/world/europe...

    You sure don't want toxic plants there, but perhaps we need our own national conversation about the benefits of realistic kinds of environments for kids to play and learn in, including some of the risks. 

  • May 17, 2018 | 09:22 a.m.

    Hello- This looks like a great project. I was wondering if you have thought about children's persistence and troubleshooting when engaged in problem solving or scientific thinking while they are exploring.

  • Icon for: Victoria Carr

    Victoria Carr

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 10:33 a.m.

    Hi David,

    Thanks for stopping by. Yes, we began with a look at self-determination (see Kochanowski, L. & Carr, V. (2014). Nature playscapes as contexts for fostering self-determination. Children Youth and Environments. 24(2), 146-167) and, more recently, have turned our focus to executive function where we explored problem-solving and self-regulation (see Carr, V., Brown, R., Schlembach, S., & Kochanowski, L. (2017). Nature by Design: Playscape affordances support the use of executive function in preschoolers. Children, Youth & Environments, 27(2), 25-46). We are heading to the Jean Piaget Society later this month where we hope to expand the discussion. It is of great interest to our team.  

  • Icon for: Robyn White

    Robyn White

    K-12 Teacher
    May 17, 2018 | 07:17 p.m.

    This is terrific. I am very interested in your Teaching Modules when they become available. I live in Cincinnati and work with CPS. My niece also attends Arlitt.

  • Icon for: Victoria Carr

    Victoria Carr

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 07:58 a.m.

    Thanks, Robyn. You are always welcome to visit Arlitt and perhaps observe your niece playing in the playscape!

  • Icon for: Lamanda Davies

    Lamanda Davies

    K-12 Teacher
    May 20, 2018 | 09:21 p.m.

    This is exactly what many school districts need to give their students a chance to explore their environment and gain a deeper understanding of nature. So often, I think of bringing technology into the classroom, but this is also a necessity. Designing and developing a playscape would be a fascinating experience. Students would manipulate that environment and it would change because they've been an active part of it. Excellent implementation of this worthwhile idea.

  • Icon for: Victoria Carr

    Victoria Carr

    Lead Presenter
    May 20, 2018 | 11:20 p.m.

    Lamanda 

    Thank you for your compliments. Children have also used high and low technology within the playscape as part of the curriculum and play. Teachers also integrate math, literacy, art, music, and science into playscape experiences. As for designing and building a playscape, the process is thoughtful and fun. We have engaged children, teachers, community stakeholders, and landscape and design architects in the proccess  

  • Icon for: Jessica Andrews

    Jessica Andrews

    Project Director
    May 21, 2018 | 06:25 p.m.

    Love your video! I am working on a project that aims to foster active, outdoor science learning among children and families in urban communities. Our research has found that adding physical activity to science programming can enhance children's engagement, and does not come at the expense of meaningful science learning. I'm really interested in the questions you are pursuing in your project - I look forward to checking out your research when it becomes available.

  • Icon for: Victoria Carr

    Victoria Carr

    Lead Presenter
    May 21, 2018 | 06:51 p.m.

    Jessica

    Thank you!  We have several published articles in Children, Youth and Environments, Journal of Environmental Education Research and International Journal of Play. Hopefully, a few more to come out soon. Keep in touch and we will let you know of new articles as they are published 

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.