Submitted by Dacon
Nurturing the imaginative mind is something all parents desire for their children. As an essential element for dexterity and cognitive and emotional strength, play enhances perceptual development, emotional growth and social interaction. With play and learning hand-in-hand, technology offers operational capabilities, fine motor skills and long-distance communication, teaching children the symbiotic relationship between cause and effect.
Dacon received a request from Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island on behalf of a deserving 11-year-old boy for a play apparatus. Edward’s request was unique in that he designated the beneficiary to be his school, Chickering Elementary.
Only 1% of wishes nationally focus on a child giving something to the community. Given Edward’s open-ended desire for something within the school to help others, Dacon focused on creating a long-lasting structure that offers experiential learning through play.
Alvaro Ribeiro, director of design, explains, “In considering the role of technology in education, we decided that designing a communal space where children could relax, interact and learn amongst peers and teachers would be a nurturing experience. With the magnitude of Edward’s unselfishness, we wanted to ensure this play space benefitted students of multiple ages and capabilities, and their teachers.”
Enter King’s Imaginarium – King being a nickname given to Edward by his family. This brightly colored 15 x 8-foot geodome with 3D virtual reality is wheelchair accessible and can accommodate up to eight students.
Constructed of PVC piping, carpeting, felt and fabric, the geodome enables students to play interactive games, make virtual 3D art, listen to music, connect with audiobooks and watch films using VR Oculus Quest headsets. As with a child’s imagination, there are no wires and no limits. Using Google Chromecast, images are broadcast to a smart TV for a larger audience.
In addition, others can be engaged via Bluetooth speakers outside the dome. A USB hub keeps power generated 24 hours a day. Yogibo bean bags are provided for comfort and side tables, for storage. Additionally, 120 feet of LED tape lights provide gentle lighting and support activation of the visual senses.
The following firms lent generous material and motivational support:
Maharam and Momentum Textiles – fabrics
Patcraft – carpeting
FilzFelt – felt
Wentworth Institute of Technology – laser cutter