June 22, 2015

Gordon Interactive Playscape Opens July 1

By Melissa Proulx, Marketing Intern
On July 1, Squam Lakes Natural Science Center opens its new Gordon Interactive Playscape, an intricately designed playground where children can play and learn. This wonderful new exhibit teaches children about the concept of prey and predator, by having them simulate the obstacles faced by a red squirrel.

Bird's nest
The Playscape includes many fun features, aimed to stimulate children’s minds and imaginations. For instance, kids can use a rope swing to mimic a squirrel jumping to a bird feeder, where they ring a bell to signify their arrival. A series of platforms challenges kids to maintain their balance, as if they are squirrels moving through the forest canopy. A bird’s nest overlooking the exhibit provides an impressive sight and includes a thirteen-foot slide so children can land back on the ground and begin their adventures again.

The Gordon Interactive Playscape was designed by Naturalist Eric D’Aleo and Facilities Supervisor Dean Smith. They were inspired largely by the designs of Ku Kuk, a German company which uses natural materials to build play areas, sometimes with a nature theme. D’Aleo and Smith have put a great deal of effort into creating the Playscape, including, but not limited to, hours of research, numerous meetings with the education exhibit team to present, discard, and/or modify ideas, CAD and hand-drawn renderings of the design, and construction.
Under construction

D’Aleo and Smith hope for kids to have fun while being active and moving outside. Children get to crawl, climb, dig, and slide, while they imagine what it’s like to be a red squirrel. They also hope visitors will gain a new understanding of the predator-prey relationship.

“[W]hen [having] fun, a person is engaged and excited by the experience, which provides an opportunity for learning and understanding,” said D’Aleo. “It’s one thing to read about predators and prey; it’s another thing when you have a chance to role-play the experience.”

Under construction
This new addition to Squam Lakes Natural Science Center was funded by generous donors to the Nature Matters Capital Campaign. The campaign was organized by the Science Center’s dedicated board of trustees. It has funded the Gordon Interactive Playscape, the Wood Energy Exhibit completed in 2014, the Water Matters Pavilion opening in 2016, and a new raptor mews soon to be under construction.

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