Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Go To The Park And Learn Some Science

Taking kids to a park is a great way to get them outdoors, let them play and get some exercise, and peel them away from the television, video games or computers. Most parks have an open place to play ball or Frisbee, some trees to climb, perhaps some basketball or tennis courts, and a standard playground where the kids can swing, slide and hang from the monkey bars.

I recently found a park that has all of the above, but, the playground is anything but standard. This is a playground where the kids can learn about science while they play. They get interactive with experiments while playing and it teaches some cool concepts at the same time.

The park is Novell Children's Discovery Park, part of Manila Park in Pleasant Grove, and is a fantastic place for parents and children.

Discovery Park is broken out into "zones," and each zone has something unique for the kids to do, see, learn, and play with. There are speaking tubes all over the park. Find two tubes that have the same number written on them and kids can talk to each other over short distances. Wow! It's not even a cell phone.

One of my favorites was the whisper dishes. These are two large parabolic dishes (old, six foot tall satellite dishes) that are set about 100 feet apart from each other. Two people stand about two feet in front of each dish and then talk in a normal voice, or even whisper, and you'll be able to hear the other person who is a hundred feet away. My little boy was amazed at how that worked.

Head over to the dinosaur sand pit and see a replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex skull that the kids can climb into. All around the edges of the sand pit are tiles the explore the geologic timeline, showing something on the tile from each period.

Play a song with metal tubes that are cut at just the right length for each note. Hit the tube with a metal hammer that is attached to each tube and play a note. On a board above the tubes are several songs that show the kids which order to hit the tubes to play each song.

There is an Echo Box that the kids can yell into and hear their own voice echo like they were standing in a canyon. There is an earthquake platform that shows them what the ground might feel like during an earth quake.

When you want to take break, there is Utah Native Plant Garden with benches and tables- one of the tables is a chess board, but you'll need to bring your own chess pieces.

Learn about petroglyph's, animal tracks, rainbows, tree rings, rock types and so much more. Children run, play, swing climb and slide without ever realizing that they are learning about science and why science is cool.

We could have spent hours at this playground, except it started to storm, and we didn't want to learn about lightning firsthand.

Place: Novell Children's Discovery Park (part of Manila Park)
Location: 1550 North 100 East, Pleasant Grove, Utah
Phone: 801.785.6172 (Recreation Department)
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Cost: FREE

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Distance from:
Salt Lake City: 36.5 miles
Ogden: 71.8 miles
Provo: 12.3 miles
Logan: 117 miles

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