Flowers and fruit baskets used to be found at every hospital bedside, but for immuno-compromised kids who are vulnerable to germs and infections, these gifts are a no-no. Playing in the dirt and experiencing nature also unfortunately aren't on the table while kids are in the hospital -- but a unique, interactive sealed chamber enables them to explore and experiment while staying safe. WonderSphere's designers call it a "bedside field trip." We call it "genius." Read on for more about this amazing device and how it is boosting the moods and minds of the young patients who are interacting with it.
Wonder Connection founder, outdoors lover, and science teacher Katie Stoudemire volunteered at children’s hospitals while earning her biology degree, and she believed that bringing science and nature to pediatric patients would be a powerful way to engage their minds, connect with nature, and distract from the pain or boredom they were experiencing during their hospital stay.
She said, “I wanted to figure out a way to put things in a bubble, instead of putting kids in a bubble.” The result is this hands-on, airtight activity center, which comes to visit and educate patients on a regular basis at North Carolina Children’s Hospital. WonderSphere can fit on a hospital tray and is equipped with multiple sets of gloves so that Stoudemire, the child, and a parent or sibling can partake in the experience together. Some WonderSphere activities include observing Venus fly traps, dissecting or arranging flowers, and using microscopes. Stoudemire keeps the activities patient-centered, letting the child choose what activity he or she might want to try. She weaves in local information during the activities by focusing the lessons on North Carolina plants and animals.
WonderSphere is a collaboration between Stoudemire, the North Carolina Botanical Garden, and Bresslergroup, a product development firm. It recently won the Core 77 Design for Social Impact Award. Hospitals and health care facilities across the country could benefit from WonderSphere, so we hope plans to replicate and grow this program are in the works!
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