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.
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.
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.”