P.S. 133 - Project Oasis
(click to enlarge)
Two Universes
Planet earth in rubber safety space
Planet Earth in a child's imagination space
Mars
Jupiter
Saturn: my personal favorite
"Pluto not included"
Venus: another top pick
Sun stage with yet unpainted 'Apollo ' mural
In context

The backyard of this school tells the story of two universes. The one that most of us think of extends out there in the far reaches of our solar system, the galaxies and beyond. The other, more accessible universe, exists in the complexity of one square foot of living garden. And it's very easy to overlook both in the routine of daily life.

That's why, when the parents and teachers of P.S.133 expressed a desire to focus on science for the design of their playground, we took advantage of the backyard, which was divided in half; an existing but neglected garden on one side and a concrete courtyard on the other.

Running and playing among the planets as they spin around the Sun is a rare experience and I hope that the children who attend P.S. 133 realize that this is what they're doing. In the same way, we walk on grass all the time and don't think about the diversity of life beneath our feet.

The kids tried to revive the garden by cleaning it out and planting bulbs and perennials. Clearing away the weeds revealed old grape vines that were harvested and given out at lunch time.

As for the larger universe, that was created in three months by family members and neighbors of the school chosen by the P.T.A. as they learned carpentry skills. Together, we built wood satellites that orbit the Sun, represented by an octagonal performance stage. Children studied the planets and gave them quirky personalities based on their attributes in murals guided by artist, William Walsh for the "Doing Art Together" program.

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