Playing with Great Ideas

The Grade 10 Venture class was approached by CCS to partner with them in designing and planning a new playground structure.

How can we create an outdoor play space where students can: play safely, participate fully, encounter challenges, experience belonging and delight in God’s creation?

Excited by the thought of designing a new playground for Calvin Christian School, students started by developing a timeline for the project for the goal of having it completed for September 2019.

The Research
As part of their research, the Venture class visited several new playgrounds in Hamilton to take photos and drone video of design ideas they liked. They met with students and paraeducators from CCS and conducted surveys of all students in Grades JK to 5 to learn more about specific ideas for the playground.

“The most important factor about this project was it must be inclusive to everyone. We had to think about kids with disabilities and what equipment would suit their needs. We also had to think about how the playground could be challenging for the older kids, so the playground will never be boring for them.” – Madalyn

The class invited playground design professional Carissa Borowitz to present about fundamental principles of project management and playground design. Nicole Raftis, a practicing occupational therapist at CCS, explained key elements of inclusive design.

“We had to consider our budget, timeline, companies to work with, and the design elements for an inclusive playground.”- Luna

The students measured and mapped out the CCS site to plan the best location and ensure existing trees would be preserved. They used playground catalogues to develop individual designs and sketches for the playground, then combined their ideas in groups to create final design proposals. Students presented their ideas within the class and voted on the best two final designs to go to CCS.

“We learned how to incorporate with each other’s ideas and how everyone was open-minded with ideas and designing. There was no conflict with the group; everyone stayed open-minded and respectful.” ~ Carina

Venture teacher Richard Van Egmond was surprised by creativity, resourcefulness, and the deep investment of the students in creating an excellent design.

“The students’ capacity for empathy in understanding the needs and varying abilities of the end-users was striking. They were diligent in making sure inclusive design principles were woven into the design. “It was great to see the students develop their ability to collaborate, learn from each other and build on each other’s ideas in a respectful climate.” ~ Mr. Van Egmond

The Proposal
Design proposals were shared with a playground team at CCS for feedback and revisions in an iteration cycle that produced the final design. Afterward, the class made a preliminary evening presentation to the CCS Building Committee, then a final presentation to their Membership. The enthusiasm and support were encouraging.

“My key takeaway was how to speak publicly.” ~ Kyler

“I definitely got better at presenting. We had to present the project a lot which gave us practice for public speaking. I also developed better teamwork skills because we had to come up with ideas together.” ~ Madalyn

“We have multiple people, each with their own skills and interests.” Harrison

Because Venture 10 is focussed on career exploration and capacity development, Richard Van Egmond notes that this was an excellent project for our class on many levels.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was in September. We invite you to see it for yourself.

“It drew on a wide variety of real-world, workplace skills such as design thinking, project management, research, collaboration, problem-solving, public presentation, and communication skills. Students also created media and communications products to explain the project at CCS fundraising events. During the process, we also learned about a variety of careers related to the project, including design, construction, occupational therapy, project management, and education. ~ Mr. Van Egmond

Adrianne Sprogis, Communications Director
Hamilton District Christian School