Science playground to revitalise Macarthur reserve

New experiment: Dr Ragbir Bhathal is working alongside Campbelltown City Council and playspace designer Ric McConaghy to build a science-based playground at Lack Reserve in Glen Alpine. Picture: Simon Bennett
New experiment: Dr Ragbir Bhathal is working alongside Campbelltown City Council and playspace designer Ric McConaghy to build a science-based playground at Lack Reserve in Glen Alpine. Picture: Simon Bennett

Forget slippery dips and monkey bars – Campbelltown Council is working on a whole new type of play park.

The council is working closely with Western Sydney University distinguished teaching fellow Dr Ragbir Bhathal and playspace designer Ric McConaghy to create a science-based playground at the bare Lack Reserve in Glen Alpine.

Dr Bhathal has been campaigning for such a park for years and is excited by the prospect of seeing a science playground brought to life.

“The council is investing in the future of a scientific metropolis with home-grown scientists and engineers – they should be proud of the fact that this is probably the first science playground in Australia,” he said.

“In the science park we are building a learning environment which is not only great fun but also provides a learning experience where kids can make mistakes without losing marks in the classroom.

“They can take their own time to learn the topic without worrying about grades.”

The playground envisaged by the council would include fun equipment which draws on scientific concepts.

Campbelltown Council director of city delivery, Wayne Rylands, said the council’s Play Space Strategy referenced the need for ‘higher level play spaces’ that would attract people from a wide area and he believed a science park would meet that need.

Singapore Science Centre

Singapore Science Centre

“The Glen Alpine play space incorporates science-based play including a Fibonacci balance beam walk, kinetic sound box, infinity mirror and other standard play elements that reinforce science such as a swing (pendulum), in-ground trampolines (action and reaction) and a spica spinner (centrifugal force),” he said. “The play space is laid out in the patterns of science such as a water molecule and a carbon atom.”

Dr Bhathal said it was important children were exposed to scientific concepts at a young age as it increased their likelihood of excelling in the field in the future.

“Young boys and girls are growing up in a world that is getting more and more scientific and technological,” he said.

“To survive and get good jobs they need to start getting familiar with scientific concepts at a very young age.

“The earlier they are exposed to science and engineering the faster they will be able to adapt to the new world of science.

New York Hall of Science playground

New York Hall of Science playground

“Most top scientists have been exposed to scientific concepts at a very early age – playing with things scientific and technological in a hands-on environment got them to be interested in taking up a scientific and engineering career.”

Dr Bhathal said the science park would give kids a fun chance to experiment while growing their developing minds – all free of charge.

He encouraged state and federal MPs to “come to the party” and work with the council, community and local organisations to ensure the park has the best equipment and experiments it can to benefit local kids.

Mr Rylands said the council was in the process of consulting with Glen Alpine community about the Lack Reserve science playground.

“The play space within this park is planned to be constructed next financial year.”