How to Incorporate Science Into Your Playground

How to Incorporate Science into Your Playground

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects are essential in various industries. However, they are filled with complex ideas and topics that can be challenging for some children to learn. Incorporating STEM subjects into play can encourage children to learn about STEM while having fun.

STEM playgrounds are designed to teach children about science while they play. They can use existing equipment or specific STEM playground equipment. Ultimately, STEM playgrounds are an effective way of helping children develop soft skills, develop a deeper understanding of the world and make science fun.

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The Benefits of Combining Science and Play

Combining science and play has numerous benefits for children of all ages. Here are a few advantages of combining science and play:

  • Makes science fun: Adding elements of play and turning science lessons into a game makes STEM topics more fun. The more children enjoy learning something, the more interested and engaged they are, improving their understanding and encouraging further interest.
  • Promotes soft skill development: Soft skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, flexibility and collaboration are highly sought after by employees. Science can help children develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills when they have to overcome challenges through trial and error when experimenting. Communication, collaboration and interpersonal skills can also be taught through science games.
  • Builds confidence in STEM subjects: Play helps children become more familiar and comfortable with STEM topics, building their confidence. As their confidence grows, they may perform better in standardized testing. Over time, this can encourage more children to pursue a STEM career, especially children from underrepresented groups.
  • Develops understanding of the world: Through play-based learning, children develop a deep, conceptual understanding of the world around them that goes beyond memorizing facts and ideas. They gain this understanding through real-world experiences on the playground and in the classroom.

7 Science Concepts You Can Teach on the Playground

Playgrounds consist of varying play structures and elements that can easily be incorporated into fun lessons about different science concepts. Here are seven science concepts children can learn on the playground:

1. Forces

Friction, air resistance, momentum and motion are invisible forces that can be tricky to teach and may be hard for kids to understand. Playgrounds can help make these concepts more tangible and easier for children to understand.

Explaining why rolling balls eventually come to a stop and how the friction on different surfaces can slow down moving objects is easier when children can see everything in action on a playground.

2. Gravity

One of the most straightforward science concepts to teach on the playground is gravity. Throwing balls up in the air, jumping and sliding are simple yet effective ways to teach kids about this invisible concept. Kids can be taught why objects come back down to Earth instead of continuing to float in the air.

3. Balance

It’s essential that kids learn about balancing themselves and other objects. Practicing their balance can help kids improve their coordination and physical abilities. Balance also extends to stabilizing objects on different surfaces. Some easy ways for children to learn about balance include using seesaws, balance beams, swings and scales.

4. Light

An easy concept to learn on the playground is light. Children can be taught how different materials react to light, including how objects reflect it or if it affects something’s temperature.

Shadows are another element of light that can be seen on the playground. Kids can see how their shadows change shape at different times of the day and even how various weather conditions impact how dark their shadows become.

5. Weather

There are several ways kids can be taught about the weather during play. Kids can monitor clouds for signs of rain, create weather charts and even experience rain and snow in a controlled way.

Children can be taught about how rain, snow, hail and wind form, identify different clouds, and see how weather can affect playground structures and the environment around the playground.

6. Seasons

Similar to weather, seasons can be taught on the playground. Kids can learn about the rotation of the Earth and why it’s one season for them and another in other countries. They can also learn how different regions experience seasons, like dry summers and wet winters.

7. Animal Life

Playgrounds can be full of different animals and insects, especially if there are many natural elements in and around the playground. Kids can learn about the seasonal habits, feeding and living habits of the animals and insects they see.

Outdoor Science Games for the Playground

Outdoor Science Games for the Playground

Here are four fun physical science games you can try on the playground:

  1. Measuring shadows: A sundial is a fun way to measure shadows and teach kids about the Earth’s rotation. Get some chalk and ask kids to measure and draw outlines of their shadows at different times of the day. They can do the same for playground structures, trees, fences and other fixed objects.
  2. Nature bingo: Ask children to fill out an empty bingo sheet with topics related to nature found on the playground. Use themes like summer insects, types of trees or natural elements that encourage kids to think about what they are looking for. Once kids have completed this step, call out different natural elements for kids to cross out.
  3. Science four square: Draw a four square on the playground on chalk. Have four students at a time pass the ball between them. When they have the ball, they must call out the names of animals, plants or concepts depending on the theme. You can ask them to name differences or similarities between what is called out or explain specific ideas.
  4. Sliding races: Gather different objects of different shapes, sizes and materials to roll down slides or slopes and time them. Ask the kids why they think some things went faster than others. This is a great way to teach children about forces, including momentum, gravity and friction. Make sure all items are picked up afterward. Objects left in play areas can present tripping hazards for children.

Get Stem Playground Equipment From Playworld

Get STEM Playground Equipment From Playworld

Keep these fun outdoor science games in mind when designing or upgrading your playground. To create a STEM playground, you can choose specific playground structures geared toward science.

Playworld supplies various playground equipment such as the PlayCubes®, Branch Out® and Unity® Collection that can be incorporated into outdoor science games to make STEM fun for children to learn.

Discover more about our playground equipment or request a quote for a STEM playground today!

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