A Hackathon competition to choose a creative solution for innovative kindergarten playgrounds took place on April 15, 2018 in Jerusalem with over 200 participants. Organized by the Jerusalem Foundation, in cooperation with the Early Childhood Division of the Jerusalem Education Authority, and Beta Educators (a leader in the field of innovative pedagogy), the Hackathon encompasses the Foundation’s vision of ensuring that safe, stimulating and updated recreational facilities are provided to the city’s youngest students.
To get a feel for the vibe at the event, click here.
The two first prize winners went to (1) Gan Keshet bv’Gefen in west Jerusalem that designed a playground with the use of bamboo to create different changeable spaces in the playground while growing the material themselves and (2) Gan AlShuruk in east Jerusalem, representing a cluster of special needs kindergartens with language and hearing difficulties, and they different elements such as a climbing wall and a bridge from non-synthetic materials. First prize winners received 100,000 NIS to further develop their ideas for widespread implementation, along with support from the Jerusalem Municipality.
Smaller prizes were also awarded to teams that came up with unique ideas for specific equipment. A team that designed a set of color coded chimes that can moved to block pegs and integrated with different pieces of music, a team that created a modular table that can be taken apart for abstract play or a puppet theater, and a team that created an innovative sand box all received smaller prizes.
The idea for the Hackathon came from Nicky Newfield, a new immigrant from South Africa and a mother of 3 living in Jerusalem who was shocked by the condition of the kindergarten
playgrounds in the city. “Children are in educational frameworks – and playgrounds – for so many hours a day. I don’t understand why the slides are broken, and the sandboxes are dirty,” said Newfield, who decided to fight to change this situation and turned to the Jerusalem
Foundation to lead the project.
“If we bring parents and children together to formulate creative ideas and combine private and public funding – then the solution can succeed and even replicate itself. I hope that the playground that’s chosen will be the model for kindergarten playgrounds from now on, and its design can be copied.”
Some 50 teams of innovators took part in the Hackathon with the goal of creating solutions to the current problems that both the educators and kindergarten teachers define as critical. The participants spent 12 hours of intensive development with the assistance of specialized mentors (educators, engineers), auxiliary materials (3D printers, etc.), and panels of experts, and presented their projects to a forum of judges including representatives of foundations, the municipality and early childhood experts
The new kindergarten playgrounds will utilize the state-of-the-art technological and architectural design concepts selected at the Hackathon to create optimal environments for improving children’s motor, social and pedagogical skills, with existing playgrounds being upgraded at a minimal cost. “The ideas shared at the Hackathon will be used as tools for the future to update more and more kindergarten playgrounds in the city,” explained Dr. Udi Spiegel, Director of Education Projects at the Jerusalem Foundation. “It was thanks to the foresight of Nicky Newfield and the generous support of the project’s donor, the kindergarten section of the Jerusalem Education Division of the Jerusalem Municipality and Beta Educators that we able to carry out this truly innovative project.”