Children splashing themselves and each other in a water park hardly seems the topic for focused research, but you’re not Beverlie Dietze, Okanagan College’s director of learning and applied research.
And neither are you the engineers and designers at Waterplay Solutions Corp., the Kelowna-based company with a growing, global clientele.
There’s lots to learn, it turns out, when children set their minds and imaginations to having fun in a waterpark. And where business is concerned, figuring out how to ensure children get the most from their play is good business for a company such as Waterplay Solutions.
“We’re passionate about play,” said Shanley Hutchinson, the creative manager at Waterplay Solutions.
“Play, by its very nature, as a universal, inclusive language within communities, makes the world more livable and socially just. The products we create do so much more than spray water, they create moments where children explore, imagine, push their boundaries and test their theories. When a child is playing their brain is in a constant state of learning, problem solving and critical thinking – whether it’s the associated physics, the engineering that underpins the equipment, or the math that might be involved in the layout – this is where our collaboration with Beverlie has been very insightful.”
Beyond leading the college’s research activities, she is an internationally-known expert on early childhood education and outdoor play. She’s written and co-authored seven different books and has been a driving force in bringing the importance of outdoor play into focus for those who educate early childhood educators.
Last year, Dietze and Waterplay Solutions secured a $24,930 federal grant through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s (NSERC) Engage program to work together to build business opportunities incorporating some of those outdoor play principles in design thinking at Waterplay Solutions.
Dietze, at first, was amazed at the global reach of Waterplay Solutions.
“Not many people realize there’s a company like this in our midst. From Australia to Carolina, France to Fort St. John, from the Netherlands to Chile and Indonesia, you can find the company’s installations amazing children.
“What’s clear is that they give a lot of thought about children’s play and development and what goes into their product. What I’ve been able to do is highlight how Waterplay Solutions products contribute to children’s curiosity and areas of development, such as language, literacy, self-regulation skills, and foundational Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) discoveries that support later academic performance.”
An example that Dietze points to is a recent visit to a park in Australia where the waterpark features provided children with numerous play options and experiences including the interplay between shadows of some of the water park features with the space and how those might inspire children.
“As a global company we team up with amazing people around the world who help bring our dream of connecting the world through play to reality – Beverlie is one of these people. When we can design a product to capitalize on a child’s natural curiosity and sense of wonderment we create something truly beneficial to the child, the community he or she lives in, and the world that child grows up to be a part of,” said Hutchinson.
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