Matter: A Learning Playground
Portable Play Laboratory
Matter would like to create a mobile play laboratory. The mobile laboratory brings Matter's signature "adventure laboratory" creative play experiences to low-income children where they live and learn. This project transforms shipping containers into a highly mobile, visible, inviting, and flexible play laboratory for kids of all ages. This project offers mobile versions of our popular hands-on creative play experiences to kids of all ages (and their caregivers). Planned activities include a bouldering wall, a robotics laboratory, a magnetism wall, a LEGO® building zone, a complex machine lab, and an art studio. The laboratory also has the flexibility to switch out activities over time, based on community feedback, allowing the experience to reflect the interests of our users.
All of the laboratory's activities are designed by Matter using a three part test. This test helps us ensure activities align with leading research and best practices for fostering creative play. First, participants need to be able to intuitively engage with the activity. Second, participants should be able to create their own unique outcomes. Third, the activity should be able to scale in complexity based on the participant's individual age, experience and skill level. This test is an important aspect of our work and ensures high quality creative play experiences. In partnership with the City of Dubuque and the Dubuque School District, Matter's mobile play laboratory will travel to 3 regularly visited parks and 3 elementary schools throughout the Dubuque community during the initial 3 month grant period (Sep-Nov). These 6 sites were selected based on their location in US Census data tracts which display a disproportionately high percentage of households in poverty. Our goal is to support equity by providing opportunities for play to economically disadvantaged youth where they live and learn.
As an added benefit, once the mobile play laboratory is developed it will be extremely durable, easy to transport, and easy to securely store between use. These features make it viable for many years beyond the initial grant period, creating continued impact and opportunity for play in the community. Furthermore, Matter plans to use this project as a case study, with the long term goal of creating a toolkit that helps other communities utilize mobile play laboratories as an easy to implement, high impact strategy for fostering creative play where kids live and learn.
- Jordan DeGree