Leslie Science & Nature Center unveils plans for an interactive Nature Playscape

AN ARBER – Children of Tree Town and children at heart can expect a new, open space for play from the Leslie Science & Nature Center.

Called Nature Playscape, the multi-year project has several different features and areas, including a 32-foot slide, a tunnel and a study and development area.

This summer, children in the area can see the construction of the active area, the eagles’ nest, the area with messy and loose parts and the area for water games. Ultimately, and if funding allows, the space will host a training pavilion and a climber space at Treescape Climber.

The project was funded by generous gifts, including a $ 150,000 donation from Duo Dug Song co-founder and Ann Arbor City Council member Lynch Song. The songs also offered an additional $ 50,000 if compared by community members.

“We know firsthand with our own children the importance of safe outdoor spaces to explore together, and we are grateful for so much right here in our community, such as the Leslie Science & Nature Center,” Lin Song said in a statement.


Dug Song added: “We are proud to support the Nature Playscape project and challenge the community to join us in supporting this amazing open space.”

Design for the new nature landscape at LSNC. (Leslie Science and Nature Center)

Built with an inclusive design, Nature Playscape is designed to be accessible to community members with a variety of physical abilities, such as a 32-foot steel slide installed with materials “ideal for visitors with cochlear implants,” according to the space’s website.

The play area also facilitated collaboration by including water elements that require teamwork and multiple participants.

“By building the stage in stages, we are able to install zones while we receive funding and allow the public to engage with it and enjoy it as we expand,” said LSNC Executive Director Susan Westhoff.

“The whole landscape will remain free for everyone in our community to enjoy together. We believe that Nature Playscape is a huge investment not only in our future, but also in future generations of our community. We see this as a place where children of all ages and abilities can learn and play with all these diverse areas, materials and characteristics through sensory, fine and gross motor experiences. “


The project was designed with the participation of natural landscape designer Rusty Killer and was made to complement the play spaces in the local area. It is backed by several community partners such as the city of Ann Arbor, the Michigan Arts and Culture Council, Toyota and Wacker Chemical Corporation, an LSNC official said.

“Our Nature Playscape campaign will not only add a significant new, free feature to the Leslie Science & Nature Center landscape, but also help us continue to serve as a leader in environmental education and nature-based experiences,” added Westhoff.

“Years of planning have passed in this project, with the contribution of the community, the contribution of volunteers and staff and experts, which has led us to a final design that fulfills the vision of a vast and engaging open space. It is remarkable that this comes at a time when we have all benefited and can appreciate the value of outdoor spaces. We are grateful to the Song family for their support for the next phase of the project and we ask the community to join us as we raise funds for the next section, an innovative outdoor learning amphitheater. ”


Dug Song added that the overlapping challenge aims to stimulate community participation in the project through volunteering and corporate or personal contributions.

Learn more about Nature Playscape and the $ 50,000 matching challenge here.

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