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.

Bill Watterson, Michelangelo, And The Importance Of Play

scientiste:

Calvin and Hobbes are great philosophers on play. Definitely worth revisiting now and again…

Originally posted on M. Landers:

In the middle of my sophomore year at Kenyon, I decided to paint a copy of Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” from the Sistine Chapel on the ceiling of my dorm room. By standing on a chair, I could reach the ceiling, and I taped off a section, made a grid, and started to copy the picture from my art history book.
Working with your arm over your head is hard work, so a few of my more ingenious friends rigged up a scaffold for me by stacking two chairs on my bed, and laying the table from the hall lounge across the chairs and over to the top of my closet. By climbing up onto my bed and up the chairs, I could hoist myself onto the table, and lie in relative comfort two feet under my painting. My roommate would then hand up my paints, and I could work…

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Helping children receive and learn about brain scans through play | BBC News

We know children tend to be wiggly, but we’ve also seen them sit stone still when they are engaged in a good book or toy or enraptured by a movie. A hospital in the UK is tapping into that enraptured engaged stillness.

Many adults find the procedure of having a brain scan, which involves having to lie still for an hour or more while images are analysed, an unsettling experience.The process is no less daunting for young children, who are usually given a general anaesthetic when they have the procedure.

However, a pilot scheme at University College Hospital in London is helping young people have a scan without being sedated, by teaching them about it through play.

see the video via BBC News – Helping children learn about brain scans through play.

Art Students Transform Ugly Electrical Towers Into Colorful Lighthouses | Bored Panda

Why has nobody thought of this before?

Three art students in Germany have come up with a novel way to beautify ordinarily ugly urban environments. They turned a common electric tower into a makeshift stained glass lighthouse.The change was simple but effective. Ail Hwang, Hae-Ryaan Jeon and Ghung Ki Park, students at Klasse Löbbert in Münster, Germany, filled the gaps in the tower’s struts with panels of colored acrylic plastic, turning it into a dazzlingly colorful structure. It’s not quite as detailed and beautiful as true stained glass, but it is nonetheless a great approach for decorating an otherwise ugly structure. The resulting work is called Leuchtturm, or “lighthouse” in German.

more, including the original source, via  Bored Panda.

It would also alert birds and other migratory animals that they might not want to hang out there. The only problem I can see with this is if the plastic acted as a prism for the grass and started a fire, but I’m sure there are ways you could engineer around that. Right?

World’s Largest Underground Trampolines Now Open to Upbeat Cave Explorers

scientiste:

An interesting way to experience caves, not just by walking through them or rappelling down their walls, but to put yourself in the middle of the cave, either via jumping or suspension, plus the sounds created from bouncing on the trampolines and inevitable “whoop!”ing that ensues.

Originally posted on The Dirt:

technicolor trampolines

Technicolor trampolines / Bradley White (Bounce Below)

Adventurous and non-claustrophobic explorer-types have typically relied on climbing equipment and headlamps to venture into caves below the earth’s surface. The Bounce Below Arena at Zip World Titan in Wales is now offering visitors an entirely different experience, fusing cave exploration with playground fun via giant mesh trampoline nets connected by walkways and slides running as long as 60 feet.

The three trampolines are suspended in historic Llechwedd Slate Caverns, a Victorian-era slate mine twice the size of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Originally mined in the 18 and 19th centuries, the caverns were later used to hide precious art works from the Germans during World War II, writes Inhabitat. According to The Daily Mail, workers cleared out some 500 tons of rubble to prepare the attraction. And to add to “the already awesome experience,” said Bounce Below, the trampolines are lit by a kaleidoscopic LED…

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What does it really mean for humans to be fully environmentally deprived?

This blog often focuses on environmental enrichment, but what does it mean for humans to truly experience complete environmental deprivation?

A survey of 11 studies came out recently, called "The Challenges of the Disengaged Mind," that asked subjects to do nothing for 6 to 15 minutes. Literally nothing. No books, no laptop, no person to chat with. All they had was a device that would administer an electric shock at a level that was fairly unpleasant. The study found that many subjects chose to shock themselves rather than do nothing for those 15 minutes.

The All Tech Considered article that I originally read was focused on arguing how we’ve all been trained to be way over stimulated by our electronic devices to handle 15 minutes of alone time. I think other studies have shown that, but in this particular study I disagree.

First, the studies in the survey took away ALL distractions, not just technical devices. Other studies have shown that being left alone without anything to do for a long time is pretty unpleasant for us social creatures. Just think of solitary confinement, and how it is considered cruel and unusual punishment by some.

Second, it is unclear based on what I read from the abstract and articles about the survey (I should probably break down and buy access, but meh), how longitudinal this survey of studies is. The only way to argue that we as humans have gotten worse at sitting alone by ourselves over the last twenty years, or since the Internet, or whatever impetus you want to use, as several articles want to do, is to have longitudinal comparisons of before and after said cause. I’ve seen this done with the length of time humans tend to read or focus on a project, and it could be done with solitary confinement or other isolation studies.

In fact, that would be pretty interesting to do a longitudinal survey study of how (and how well) humans cope with isolation or being forced to be alone with their thoughts, and hopefully not in a torturous way. We see this idea of intentional isolation practiced via meditation, which is more the practice of actively ignoring both your environment and your thoughts, and as most people who’ve tried it will tell you, it is HARD!

I’m curious to hear what other people have seen and think about our capabilities to handle "alone time" and whether it has changed over the decades. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

IS PLAY THE KEY TO ECO-ACTION? : Children & Nature Network

Environmental Psychology and conservationists have, for awhile now, been advocating the importance of letting children get out and play in and with nature to educate them on the value of preserving their environment and benefiting from natural surroundings. It’s nice to see pediatricians also start to embrace and advocate for the need for everyone, including children, get outside and get dirty.

Dr. Lawrence Rosen writes that throughout his practice, seeing children on a daily basis, “I’m often reminded of Winslow Homer’s 1872 painting, “Snap the Whip,” depicting boys playing with abandon in a field outside their rural schoolhouse.”

So eloquently portrayed is the simplicity of another time, kids out in the natural world for no other purpose than to play, freely and without a care in the world.Contrast this with contemporary schoolyards with their meticulously designed jungle gyms and artificial surfacing, often empty throughout the day as more and more schools abolish recess or replace free play with highly structured, adult-supervised activities. I’ve realized, as I see increasingly anxious and depressed children come to my office looking for guidance, that the answers often lie not in my prescription pad but outside my window.

One very recent publication from Dr. Kirsten Beyer and associates at the Medical College of Wisconsin described the influence of green space on mental health outcomes, concluding that “higher levels of neighborhood green space were associated with significantly lower levels of symptomology for depression, anxiety and stress” and that “’greening’ could be a potential population mental health improvement strategy in the United States.”

read more from Dr. Rosen via IS HAPPINESS THE KEY TO ECO-ACTION? : The New Nature Movement.

The World’s Happiest Places, Visualized | Fast Company

Trying to compare “happiness” metrics can be tricky, both because different countries and reports measure “happiness” in different ways, and because a spreadsheet of numbers isn’t all that inspiring (and I work with them, so speaking from personal experience).

I like the fact that they’re using multiple data points to quantify happiness (although it looks more like quality of life, but they definitely overlap).

Data viz wunderkind Moritz Stefaner has been on a happiness kick lately. Earlier this year, he analyzed the data of more than 3,000 images to try to determine the happiness of people New York, Bangkok, Moscow, São Paolo, and Berlin, according to their selfies. And now he’s back, visualizing the happiness of the entire world–using a more objective data source.

Founded in 1961, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an international policy organization dedicated to stimulating economic progress and world trade. As part of their mission, the OECD has worked to quantify happiness and well-being through their Better Life Initiative, which ranks countries and cities according to metrics such as health, safety, education, jobs, environmental quality, civic engagement, and level of disposable income. Now Stefaner and Dominikus Baur have teamed up with the OECD to visualize this data using a slick, interactive online tool.

Happiness index of France and similar regions

The OECD Regional Well-Being Index tool is easy to use. It asks to access your location, and then visualizes the well-being index of your state or country as a rainbow-hued star, each Pantone-coded arm of which represents one factor of happiness and well-being. You can drill down for more detail, or compare your region’s well-being index to other locations with similar ratings.

Check out how your own neighborhood compares on the OECD Regional Well-Being Index here.

more via Fast Company: The World’s Happiest Places, Visualized