Landscape Architect & Specifier News

SEP 2018

LASN is a photographically oriented, professional journal featuring topics of concern and state-of-the-art projects designed or influenced by registered Landscape Architects.

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80 Landscape Architect and Specifier News I n f o r m a t i o n R e q u e s t # 5 7 2 Texas Tech Researchers Evaluate Playgrounds Two professors at Texas Tech University are heading a group of researchers that are tasked with examining the relationship between the design of outdoor play spaces and their correlation to healthier, more active lifestyles. Charles Klein, an associate professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture, and Kristi Gaines, from the Department of Design, are the professors leading the group known as "OLE! Lubbock," which stands for Outdoor Learning Environments. The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) reached out to Texas Tech to help develop a list of the 12 best-practice indicators in order to reduce obesity rates by utilizing play area design. "In other words, the way we design an outdoor play space can lead to healthier, active lifestyles," Klein stated in a Texas Tech article. A few of the best design practices derived by the team include: the incorporation of a curved path, a transitional space that links the classroom to the environment and ample sand, grass and water areas. Klein and Gaines have worked with the DSHS to develop three pilot design workshops, the first of which was in conjunction with the Covenant Child Development Center, a daycare facility near the university, to create an OLE that encourages physical activity, food awareness and healthier lifestyles for children. OLE! Lubbock received a $149,982 grant from the USDA, allowing OLE! Lubbock to conduct more workshops with childcare centers in the area. Preschool Teacher Receives Grant to Study Play Jessica Fong, a preschool teacher at John Spry Community School in Chicago, recently received a grant from the Chicago Foundation for Education to further her study of nature-based playgrounds and their correspondence to pretend play. Fong began her research due to what she saw in 2017. Once a week she would take her students to Jardincito Nature Playground, two blocks away from the school. Fong noticed that the kids were more collaborative and used more pretend play while they were at the nature playground, as opposed to the regular playground. She applied for a fellowship with the Chicago Foundation for Education and was awarded $1,750. Her method consisted of video taping children playing at nature playgrounds and regular playgrounds and then comparing them to see which setting resulted in the children using more cooperative or pretend play. What she learned was that children engaged in cooperative/imaginary play 44% of the time at nature playgrounds while only engaging 23% of the time on a traditional playground. Also, she found that 50% of the language used on traditional playgrounds was either screaming, yelling or not talking. Whereas, just 8% of language on a nature playground was "minimal" and 15% was conflict language.

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