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Norman Kids Compete To Design Best Playground

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NORMAN, Oklahoma -

Eight elementary school teams in Norman just finished competing in the first-ever Design+Do competition to build the best playground. With the help of Devon Energy and OU's Innovation Hub, some of their wildest dreams are coming to life.

Imaginations were on full display at the Tom Love Innovation Hub at OU this week. The kids spent the past seven weeks redesigning their schools' playgrounds, with an eye towards the future.

It was a challenge unlike anything they had ever faced before. “It had to be a certain size, made of certain materials, and they had to learn to work within those constraints and meet all of the goals,” said Susan Allgood, the Gifted coordinator at Jackson Elementary School, whose team designed a pirate ship playground.

Once in the Innovation Hub, the teams had access to everything they needed to make it happen, including laser cutters, 3D printers and tools galore. Allgood said, “Even though everyone had the same goals and the same constraints with the challenge, everyone’s idea is so different.”

From pirate ships to walking wheels to climbing towers, the kids created sets that look both functional and fun. Jackson Elementary fifth grade student Jasmine Chavez says, “I really like to build things and draw and I’m really, really crafty.”

The laws of physics are lessons that usually are not taught until high school, but Devon Energy is already looking for its next generation of workers. Teachers agree, the earlier the better. Allgood said, “There have been lots of studies that have shown that by the time students are in fourth grade, if they’re not interested in science or experimenting, they’re probably not going to pursue science.”

Cleveland Elementary won first place, along with $1,000 for the school, for their triple-wheel design which includes a walking wheel, a rock climbing wheel and a monkey bar wheel. Washington Elementary got runner-up with a playground designed like a climbing tower with a rock wall, tire swing and vertical netting. Both teams will be recognized at an upcoming OU game, and Devon Energy hopes to expand the contest in years to come.

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