In Redesigned Room, Hospital Patients May Feel Better Already – NYTimes.com

I recently had a short stay at a hospital (just some minor surgery), and as I lay in my hospital bed I recall looking out my window at a green canopy of trees planted two stories below. I remember how peaceful and pleasant it was to be able to look out and watch the trees. I also noticed my anxiety went down, I was distracted from my pain, and just overall felt better.

More and more research is coming out that is finding the benefits of incorporating nature and natural environments into the healing process, for everything from surgery to PTSD to dementia, and a variety of other ailments. So it’s great to see hospitals incorporating this knowledge into new building designs as well as therapies.

The University Medical Center of Princeton realized several years ago that it had outgrown its old home and needed a new one. So the management decided to design a mock patient room.Medical staff members and patients were surveyed. Nurses and doctors spent months moving Post-it notes around a model room set up in the old hospital. It was for just one patient, with a big foldout sofa for guests, a view outdoors, a novel drug dispensary and a bathroom positioned just so.

Equipment was installed, possible situations rehearsed. Then real patients were moved in from the surgical unit — hip and knee replacements, mostly — to compare old and new rooms. After months of testing, patients in the model room rated food and nursing care higher than patients in the old rooms did, although the meals and care were the same.

But the real eye-opener was this: Patients also asked for 30 percent less pain medication.

Reduced pain has a cascade effect, hastening recovery and rehabilitation, leading to shorter stays and diminishing not just costs but also the chances for accidents and infections. When the new $523 million, 636,000-square-foot hospital, on a leafy campus, opened here in 2012, the model room became real.

read more via In Redesigned Room, Hospital Patients May Feel Better Already – NYTimes.com.

Letting imagination win – The Washington Post

I am definitely competitive by nature, as well as a game-rule follower, but I also appreciate and value the ability to think beyond the rules and explore “what if?” That is essence is the entire definition of play, questioning, what else can this be used for. It helps brains grow and is also the spark behind science, art, math, and all the other great discoveries. It’s nice to see that other people also understand and appreciate that need to explore and ask “what else does this do?”.

At 8 and 6 years old, my daughter and oldest son prefer to pick out the pawns from board games and use these figures for imaginary role-play rather than play the games themselves. This drives my mother crazy, and not just because the kids also use her antique water bird decoys as super villains.

“Aren’t they a little old for this?” my mother asks, exasperated and reaching under the couch to capture roving tokens from Clue and Monopoly, setting the games back in their proper boxes “for the umpteenth time today!”

The truth is that my children are not too old for it at all. Nor are they too old for those evening song and dance numbers in which anyone over the age of 21 is required to sit in a row, sweaty thigh to sweaty thigh, while the children put on a variety show after little to no rehearsal.

read the entire article at Letting imagination win – The Washington Post.

Folly Forest: From Asphalt to Educational Landscape

scientiste:

A great example of reclaiming asphalt and turning it into a more humane landscape.

Originally posted on The Dirt:

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Browsing through the latest issue of Azure magazine, one can see socially conscious design is making its way even into the far reaches of Winnipeg, Canada. Folly Forest, a great, small project at the Stratchona School, which in a low-income neighborhood, was put together with just $80,000 by local design firm Straub Thurmayr Landscape Architects and Urban Designers.

50-year old asphalt was broken apart so 100 trees could be planted within bright red and yellow-lined star-shaped spaces. Azure tells us: “To add rich texture and provide ground cover for the new plantings, they arranged bricks, logs, and stones inside the bases.”

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There are also “rusty cauldrons” and “silvery wooden beams,” found objects that add an industrial glamor.

The project has deservedly taken home a ton of Canadian design awards. Azure‘s jury gave it a merit award, and the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA) awarded it a citation

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Play Doesn’t End With Childhood: Why Adults Need Recess Too | NPR

I’ve already shared this article via Twitter, but it is so important that I just had to re-share via my blog. If there was one mantra I would want to be known for it’s that adults need play. Humans need downtime. Humans need breathing room. Humans need play at any age!

A father and daughter try out a public park piano in Seattle, WA

A father and daughter try out a public park piano together in Seattle, WA

Childhood play is essential for brain development. As , time on the playground may be more important than time in the classroom.But playtime doesn’t end when we grow up. Adults need recess too.

The question is, why? To answer this question, Dr. Stuart Brown says we need to clearly define what play is. He’s head of a nonprofit called the National Institute for Play.

“Play is something done for its own sake,” he explains. “It’s voluntary, it’s pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome.”

So, let’s take gambling, for instance. A poker player who’s enjoying a competitive card game? That’s play, says Brown. A gambling addict whose only goal is to hit the jackpot? Not play.

Brown says that children have a lot to learn from what he calls this “state of being,” including empathy, how to communicate with others, and how to roll with the punches.

read the whole article, including more insight from Stuart Brown, a long-time play research and advocate, via Play Doesn’t End With Childhood: Why Adults Need Recess Too : NPR Ed : NPR.

I have met and chatted briefly with Dr. Brown and read his work, and he has done some pretty interesting work on play over the years, using both primary and secondary research (I even cited him in my thesis).

I could easily go on a rant here as to why adult play is so important but so undervalued, but for now just read the article and leave any comments either here or on the actual article’s page.

Cities’ Message to Young Families: Play and Stay – WSJ

City planners are finally starting to grok that in order to keep residents, they will need to offer the whole package, including playful spaces for everyone, kids and grown-ups alike.

About a decade ago, the so-called creative class of 20somethings fueled the revival of urban centers by settling in downtown areas mixing condos and coffee shops. Now, as millennials and other urbanites have children, their needs are changing. Cities want to hold on to them by becoming more “playable,” for both children and adults.

For decades, cities “relegated kids to the playground and said, ‘We’ve done something for you,’ ” says Darell Hammond, chief executive of Washington, D.C. nonprofit KaBOOM!, which consults with city officials on promoting and preserving play. “The whole city should be a playground, and play should happen everywhere.”

That means not only building more parks and bike paths but also incorporating the ideas of “fun” and “play” throughout a city, whether it is musical swings downtown Montreal, a hopscotch crosswalk in an arts district Baltimore or camp sites on a city lake front Chicago.

more via Cities’ Message to Young Families: Play and Stay – WSJ.

I hope that this attitude shift from city planners and designers makes it more acceptable for grown-ups to go out and play, and I mean actually physically play, not just go to bars and concerts that were traditionally classified as the only acceptable adult “play.” Seattle and Portland, and  are definitely accepting and encouraging of grown-ups playing bike polo in city parks or just going for a run. Creating an environment that welcomes play also helps change the attitude of others

Route Planning For The Happiest Walk, Not The Quickest | Co.Exist | ideas + impact

I am often focused on efficiency walking from place to place. But cyclists, runners, and other athletes talk about taking the more scenic route on their commutes or exercise routes, and maybe we should all follow suite.

Route Planning For The Happiest Walk, Not The Quickest | Co.Exist | ideas + impact

We’ve all [probably] taken a detour because the path is pleasant and scenic, even if it takes longer. But Google Maps and the like aren’t set up for that. They’re solely about speed and efficiency.Recent research led by Yahoo Labs shows how a planner-for-happiness might work. Using crowdsourced impressions of streets, Flickr data, and survey responses, it looks for a balance between “people’s emotional perceptions of urban spaces” and getting them to a destination in a reasonable amount of time.

more via Route Planning For The Happiest Walk, Not The Quickest | Co.Exist | ideas + impact.

Students Go Whole Hog with Farm-to-Cafeteria Cooking | Civil Eats

A few schools are adopting a more hands-on way of teaching about food, animal care, and science, which is actually an older technique: farm animals.

Most recently, slow roasting pork tenderloin was part of a homework assignment for a Bend, OR, high school culinary class. And the source of their pork? Mountain View High School, less than a mile away, where FFA formerly known as Future Farmers of America students are raising pigs.

These classes are complementary components of an integrated farm to school program at Bend-LaPine School District, where 29 schools serve more than 16,000 students. Bend-LaPine has students raising animals, butchering animals, and feeding a school meal program. Neatly wrapped packages of pork move from classroom to school kitchen, where they are cooked into succulent carnitas for all 29 school cafeterias.

The program breaks the normal bounds of food in school and has created a whole new arena for students to learn. “It’s a full circle agriculture education experience,” says Katrina Wiest, the manager for the Bend farmers’ market and wellness specialist for the school district.

“Agriculture is a big part of my life,” says Wiest, who was raised on a wheat farm and is married to a farmer. “I feel it’s important that kids know where their food comes from.”

For close to ten years, Wiest has been pioneering the farm to school movement in the high desert of central Oregon: sourcing local food for schools and providing agriculture, health, and nutrition education opportunities in the cafeteria, classroom, and community.

more via Students Go Whole Hog with Farm-to-Cafeteria Cooking | Civil Eats.

I think this is an awesome idea! It’s a great hands-on learning opportunity for kids. A lot of schools have shied away from having animals on or near campus, or having kids even deal with animals, due to safety and health concerns. But how else and where else are kids going to learn about being safe around animals, or safety and caring for the animals themselves, unless they get somewhat structured guidance like this? Most kids don’t have a friendly farmer they can go visit and mess with their livestock on a regular basis.

But more importantly, it is a very hands-on, real-time way of letting kids work on something and seeing the results of their labor, whether it’s a happy pig or a delicious plate of carnitas, while also letting them experience delayed gratification (it takes hard work and a long time to grow a pig). It teaches kids how food is made, which is important when making food decisions. Plus, it can be very therapeutic to pet a pig.

Where I grew up was fairly rural, and yet the 4H/FFA program was still seen as a weird club that involved a lot of horse-showing. I am glad to see it getting integrated more into school programs.

Seattle Places Pianos in its Parks for the Summer

Happy Monday. If I ever needed a pick-me-up it is this week, so what’s better than a little music – outdoors – for free – via crowdsourced pianos.

 

Piano placed in Volunteer Park, Seattle.

Piano placed in Volunteer Park, Seattle.

Seattle and the Great Northwest are known for their natural beauty. And there is no greater place to enjoy nature locally, than within the hundreds of Seattle and King County parks and open spaces. Regardless of where we live, work or play, parks are great economic equalizers – providing us all with venues for relaxation, exercise, recreation and entertainment. Seattle and King County is also known as a place where music and the visual and performing arts all thrive.

In the Pianos in the Parks public-private partnership, some of the region’s leading music and arts organizations have come together to encourage us all to discover our parks. It all starts with an alluring piano. And not just any old piano – these pianos have been donated, restored and tuned by Classic Pianos and dynamically designed by the students, faculty and friends of Gage Academy of Art. With partners like Seattle Symphony, KEXP, and City of Music who knows who you’ll find tickling the ivories of one of these pianos? From baseball to dog parks, concerts to picnics – we all now have another reason to DISCOVER OUR PARKS: the PIANO. ENJOY!

via About Pianos in the Parks » Pianos in the Parks.

Other cities have done this or similar projects before, so it is great to see this sort of project come to Seattle.

Find a piano near you!

Let ‘Em Out! The Many Benefits of Outdoor Play In Kindergarten | MindShift

Another take on Free Play Learning:

For the typical American kindergartner, unstructured free play during the school day consists of 20 to 30 minutes of recess, and perhaps some time at indoor “stations” — perhaps creating with building blocks, costumes, or musical instruments. But what if there was more? What if the answer to “what did you do in school today?” was, “I climbed a tree, played in the mud, built a fire”?

That is exactly the kind of learning going on in the Swiss Waldkindergartens, or forest kindergartens, where children ages four to seven spend all of their school days playing outdoors, no matter the weather. With no explicit math or literacy taught until first grade, the Swiss have no set goals for kindergartners beyond a few measurements, like using scissors and writing one’s own name. They instead have chosen to focus on the social interaction and emotional well-being found in free play.

With many parents and educators overwhelmed by the amount of academics required for kindergartners — and the testing requirements at that age — it’s no surprise that the forest kindergarten, and the passion for bringing more free play to young children during the school day, is catching on stateside. Free play and inquiry learning are the cornerstone of Canada’s new all-day kindergarten program; forest kindergartens are popping up in Washington state, Vermont, and even Brooklyn.

At the Waldkindergarten, which takes place in the middle of the woods in Langnau am Albis, Switzerland, dotted with several handmade structures like a rudimentary wood shelter where children and teachers gather around the fire, children play, often away from teachers’ view.

These scenes are captured in “School’s Out: Lessons From a Forest Kindergarten,” a documentary directed by Lisa Molomot. In the 36-minute film, Molomot and producer Rona Richter show scenes from two public schools: the outdoor forest kindergarten in Switzerland and a more typical American kindergarten in New Haven, Connecticut.

more via Let ‘Em Out! The Many Benefits of Outdoor Play In Kindergarten | MindShift.

A School That Ditches All the Rules, But Not the Rigor | MindShift

Play IS a form of learning and experimentation, so it’s nice to see a school try to incorporate this very basic, very elemental learning process into the heart of their education system.

How can we make school a joyful experience without sacrificing rigor? What’s the best way to measure true learning? What’s the purpose of school? The founders and teachers at the PlayMaker School (watch the PBS Newshour report by April Brown), an all-game based school in Los Angeles, are asking those big, abstract questions that all teachers grapple with. And they’re trying to find their own answers through their constantly morphing, complex experiment.

Here are their thoughts about these issues, in their own words, from extended answers to the PBS NewsHour report. How can teachers, parents, and administrators these ideologies to existing public schools?

Read the interview with the school’s founder Tedd Wakeman at  A School That Ditches All the Rules, But Not the Rigor | MindShift.