Human Rocket, Artic Tunnel, Monkey Motion and Octo Orbit are just a few of the futuristic playgrounds created by a group of Marlborough High School students for the ninth grade STEM Playground Design Challenge judged at the STEM Winter Expo on Jan. 13.
The students were challenged to design a futuristic user-centered playground that encourages students and families of all abilities to learn and play together.
To get started, the high school students went to first graders at Jaworek Elementary School to conduct market research. Based on these child-centered interviews, the high school students learned that young children want the following reflected in a playground: rides with height that go fast, fun slides, jumping opportunities, colorful activities, room to run around and explore, and a superhero theme. Taking all this data into account, the high school science, technology, engineering and mathematics students also had to make sure that their playground designs were safe and Americans with Disabilities Act compliant. Heather Kohn, a high school math teacher on the ninth-grade STEM teaching team explained that 52 students were broken up into two large teams: Team Marlborough - Superheroes in Space and Team Panthers - Paco's Adventure Park. Each of these two large teams consisted of smaller teams of between three to four students for a total of 16 teams. To reinforce the guiding principle set forth, each large team shared resources, materials, ideas and problem solved to achieve the greatest goal: to build a superior and safe futuristic playground.
During the Jan. 13 MHS Winter STEM Expo, Mayor Arthur Vigeant, Superintendent Maureen Greulich, School Committee members, business partners, and engineers from the community provided the students feedback on their projects. Every individual who visited the expo was invited to vote for the playground and rides who they thought best met the project challenge.
Team Panthers was deemed to be the best overall playground. Of Team Panthers, the best ride was awarded to Group 16 - John Carney, Harry Paul, Naima Rauf and Kaelyn Voner - for "Safari Sprint." Of Team Marlborough, the best ride was awarded to Group 3 - Lorrayne Dias, Lucius Hibbard, Maddy Seder and Michael Wright - for "Superhero Training Camp Obstacle Course."
"Our goal is to have the winning team's futuristic playground built and show the Jaworek students that their creative ideas came to life," said Dan Riley, director of STEM Education for Marlborough Public Schools.