Urban Thinkscape, which presents a unique marriage of the fields of learning science and architecture and meets families where they live by embedding playful learning into everyday activities. Our first realization of Urban Thinkscape is situated in the center of the Belmont neighborhood of West Philadelphia. With little contact with community resources and few opportunities to read with a caregiver or to play spatial and mathematical games, children from low-income families often enter school far behind their more affluent peers. At the same time, existing urban public spaces are often underutilized and more needs to be done to put these spaces to work. While Urban Thinkscape is the big idea, this money will be used to fund a smaller piece of this larger vision. By creating installations targeted at low-income populations, Urban Thinkscape fosters family and neighborhood cohesion though placemaking by bringing educational opportunities into community spaces.
Eighty percent of children's waking time is spent outside of school. Urban Thinkscape takes learning to the streets by reinforcing key skills through playful learning activities. Puzzles at bus stops stimulate spatial skills; simple games offer opportunities to support executive functioning while on-site signage and a website connect caregivers to additional resources. In particular, the "Jumping Feet" design supported by KaBOOM will encourage the development of children's executive function skills. Urban Thinkscape lives in everyday places, motivating children's learning, caregiver-child engagement, and the construction of social capital in the community.
- Kathy Hirsh-Pasek