Buckland Mills students use their math skills on the playground

Teams of fourth grade students at Buckland Mills Elementary have developed a plan to make the school’s playground accessible for all students. Under the guidance of Amy Hardt, international BACC primary years programme coordinator, the students had to first assess the shortcoming with the existing equipment.

Hardt shared, “This project has opened our students’ eyes to how others experience the world. This information has moved our learning out of the classroom and made an impact within our community. During student-led conferences, parents shared their experience during a family field trip to Clemyjontri Park, an accessible playground in Fairfax County. Learning together helps our learning community be better and more inclusive citizens within our world.”

Teams researched a variety of equipment that would make the play area safe, inclusive, and integrate multiple areas of physical fitness. The students reached out to teachers of students with disabilities and physical education (PE) teachers for their guidance in helping make decisions.

James Johnson, a PE teacher at Buckland Mills, shared, “Now that the students see other ways to access our playground equipment, they can begin to consciously interact with the different zones to work different parts of their bodies to be healthier and increase their strength.”

Jennifer Diehl, a teacher of students with specific learning disabilities, explained, "Accessible playgrounds help break down barriers by offering children with various ability levels the same opportunity to engage in play and social opportunities with their peers."

Using mathematics, students calculated the dimensions necessary for implementing new equipment such as swing pods, shaded areas, and sensory items into the existing playground space. Each team surveyed the grounds, taking notes and sketching diagrams proportionate to those areas, labeling them with the appropriate specifications.

Students Aamir Kammur, Dylan Marquina, and Samir Sultani spoke about how they enjoyed working together on researching equipment and using perimeter and other related math skills to draw their blueprints.

The results of the students’ effort stand a good chance of serving as the groundwork for actual changes to the school’s playground infrastructure. In January 2023, student representatives involved in the project will present their findings during a Parent Teacher Organization meeting attended by the Buckland Mills community.

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