Design nonprofit Project H has completed the construction of their first Learning Landscape, a playground that teaches elementary math concepts using ten interactive games. Built from reclaimed tires in a simple sandbox structure, the pilot installation was built at the Kutamba AIDS Orphans School in southern Uganda by Project H design fellows Dan Grossman and Heleen de Goey. The grid system facilitates games that teach addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, along with spatial and logical reasoning. The Kutamba installation is the first of many – Project H hopes to build at least 5 more in Africa and in the US. Please help fund the construction of additional Learning Landscapes by donating to Project H here.
Designed by a group of Project H volunteer designers, the Learning Landscape is a scalable grid-based system for elementary math education. Using the Kutamba AIDS Orphans School in southern Uganda as a case study and a pilot program, industrial designers Heleen de Goey, Dan Grossman, Kristina Drury, Neha Thatte, and Ilona de Jongh conceived of ten math games to be played within a grid. Because math is universal, the system can be applied in any country, using any language for instruction, and can be tailored to a range of skill levels.
The Kutamba AIDS Orphans School, built by Matthew Miller in partnership with Architecture for Humanity, served as the case study and initial pilot installation of a playground-sized version of the system. The four-by-four grid was constructed using reclaimed tires, and a simple sand box structure. Each of the tires marks a point on the grid, and can also be used as outdoor classroom space when coupled with the integrated bench system. Numbers can be written directly onto the tires with chalk for game play.
The ten games teach concepts including addition, subtraction, multiplicaiton, and division, as well as spatial and logical reasoning through individual and team-based competition. In Match Me, for example, students form two teams. The teacher calls out a math equation, and one student from each team compete against each other to solve the equation, then locate the tire with that number on it, sitting atop the correct tire. The team member who finds the tire first returns to the team’s line. The team with whose players remain in the line the longest wins.
The Learning Landscape, though realized as a playground in its pilot installation, is a universal system that can be used at a variety of scales. Project H has continued its adaptation of the system, developing a product-sized version for in-classroom tabletop use based on the same grid games. The systems-approach, rather than object-approach, lends itself to a solution that is both universal and adaptable for specific contexts.