ENGLEFELD — Englefeld School has begun fundraising for a unique type of playground that can be built by students and aims to encourage their creative and scientific skills.
Corinne Harcourt, the school’s principal, said they currently don’t have a playground.
“What we have is an open space out back with football fields, we have a couple tetherball poles,” she said. “Up until now our students have done a lot of imaginative play during the 15-minute recess.”
Getting a playground is something the students have been asking for when the school surveys them.
The school is working on a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and more) loose parts playground. The playground will be made of materials that interlock together. An example of such a material would be the interlocking logs used for miniature log cabins. The school is also looking at sieves and filters that students can pass dirt and rocks through
When students get together to put something together on the playground, whether it’s miniature roads, buildings, water reservoirs or something completely different, it promotes life skills, communication, science, creativity, technological thinking and similar items.
“Depending on the needs of the interest in our students, it builds on life skills that they're interested in and it's rotational so we can put it away for seasons, we can bring out new things as interests change,” Harcourt said.
The principal said it’s interesting to see what the students come up with.
“It's just amazing when you give kids a tote of materials and do not tell them what to do with it. It is amazing what they come up with and that's what we want to do promote that creative thinking,” she said, adding it will be that creativity that will create the next generation of scientists.
The school is aiming to raise at least $100,000 for the playground. The School Community Council began fundraising in the summer and has brought some Tonka construction toys. A donation of $2,500 given by the Midway Co-op on Nov. 14 has allowed the school to order a storage shed for the materials, which will be built at cost by the Watson School industrial arts program. Harcourt added they are also looking for more materials and volunteer labour.
“We've also started a club for all ages called a STEAM club where the students get to practice some of the stuff and possibly build some of this stuff for a playground, once we get it going,” Harcourt said. “Every Wednesday there are three teachers that have taken on the responsibility of incorporating STEAM into a club after school and so far it's been great.”
The school is also planning to build an electronic-free lounge for the students inside its walls.