Waterslides, carousels, and a ball pit may be a dream come true for any middle school student, but it isn’t what Joshua Heron envisions for his ultimate playground.
The Grade 6 Dunsmuir Middle School student showed off an accessible shelter he designed Thursday in order for kids to stay protected from the rain. It was inspired by his dad, who uses a wheelchair.
“It’s built so that everyone can play on the playground,” Heron said.
All Grade 6 students competed in a design challenge that follows the applied design skills and technologies (ADST) curriculum. The playground is meant to connect to what students have learned about indigenous culture and provide full access for children with all degrees of mobility.
Once the students have designed the playground, they have the option to use hand and power tools and recycled items that can be cut and shaped to make a prototype. Approximately 100 Grade 6 students took part in the workshop on Jan. 30.
There’s a hot air balloon at another playground which Jovanna Lozupone dreamt to life. A cartoon face is drawn onto a red balloon that’s taped to a paper cup. They’ve also added a sign at the front of the park that acknowledges the Indigenous territories that the playground stands on.
“If I saw something like this in real life, I’d run straight to it,” Lozupone said excitedly.
One playground features a rock wall with a trampoline nearby. Another has a functioning elevator.
This year, students are challenging their critical thinking skills. Groups are given a paper that asks what kind of user is trying to access the playground, what their problem is and how they can come to a solution.
“These kids think of the craziest ideas,” said vice-principal Glenn Bedard. “One of the most impressive [playgrounds] was a group that had several pools that filled each other, like a Rube Goldberg machine.”
This year, teachers were given a book called ‘Bringing Making into the Classroom’. Bedard has his eyes on challenging the students to create a communication device without the help of a phone. Going forward, the vice-principal hopes to task the kids every month or two with a new design challenge.