Naracoorte children take the reins on new Caves Nature Playground

STEM ambassadors from the Naracoorte Primary School and Naracoorte South Primary School have taken the initiative to lead a unique project taking shape in our community – the Naracoorte Caves Nature Playground.

The budding project heads are overseeing a challenging consultation process designed to create ideas for the nature playground.

The goal of the STEM team is to give all of the primary and kindergarten students in Naracoorte the chance to have their say on the new playground’s design.

The students have been tasked with incorporating the science of fossils, mathematics, data collecting and analysis, design of their own playgrounds and technology to communicate via online platforms Google Classroom and Maker’s Empire.

Each school is running an internal design competition where each class is able to brainstorm and come up with ideas and draw their own interpretations of what the playground should look like based on the provided guidelines.

These ideas have been discussed with the two kindergartens to gain further insight, and eventually a winning design will be chosen by the STEM team to present to the caves project managers and the community team behind the Fund My Neighbourhood grant.

The ambassadors have visited the caves and Wonambi Centre to view the proposed sites for the playground. They will then choose one design element from each school to create their own digital representation and 3D printed model to present to the caves project team and community group.

These concept designs will then be discussed with the winning playground designer for further assessment.

The Limestone Ladies CWA group, which pitched the idea to the community, were steadfast that the consultation should include local children in the community.

“We wanted the children to contribute to the project and have a sense of ownership over it,” team member Katie Dawkins said.

“We really want the community to get behind the project and make this something we can all be proud of and contribute to.”

Ms Dawkins said the group would also welcome contact from anyone in a position to donate redgum wood for the project or, as the project progresses, assist in other ways.

Naracoorte Caves Site Manager Nick McIntyre said the playground will be themed around fossil hunters.

“It will tie in with the existing caves educational programs and the world heritage aspects of the site which consists of rare fossil deposits,” Mr McIntyre said.

The playground will add another dimension to the learning experience available at the popular tourist destination. The Naracoorte Caves National Park is South Australia’s only World Heritage-listed site, attracting about 55,000 visitors a year.

Mr McIntyre said the playground would encourage people to increase the length of their visit, both at the caves site and in the region, creating further opportunities for other regional businesses to benefit.

For further information, contact Nick McIntyre, Caves Manager.