Margaret Mahy Playground
Visit a playground(opens in new window) designed by kids for kids.
After the 2011 earthquake devasted central Christchurch, city officials decided to rebuild the city with more family-friendly spaces. They started by challenging local kids to design the ‘world’s best playground’. A challenged that was accepted by more than 6,000 children.
The winning design was inspired by the stories of local children’s author Margaret Mahy, and augmented by playground experts from around the world, who incorporated the latest theory on learning and play.
The playground comprises four zones, reflecting Canterbury’s varied landscape: forest, coastal, plains, and wetland. The best bits include a 10-metre-high tower, 4-metre-wide slide, giant wobbling tops, and in-ground trampolines. All the equipment is built strong and big enough for adults to use it as well. You can hazard a guess as to whose idea this was – kids’ or playground experts?
The park was named for Margaret Mahy, the author of 100 picture books, 40 novels, and 20 collections of short stories. Margaret might have been a prolific writer, but she was also thorough. At age 62 she had her right shoulder tattooed with the picture of a skull with a rose in its teeth, so she could describe the experience convincingly in one of her stories.
If you climb the stairs of the old university clocktower to where Earnest Rutherford, the father of nuclear physics, carried out his first experiments, you’ll discover why these rooms have played such an important role in history.
The clocktower(opens in new window) now houses an excellent exhibition, featuring multi-sensory displays and hands-on experiences that bring Rutherford’s ideas to life.
Nuclear physics might seem like a subject that’s disconnected from our daily lives, but actually it isn’t. For example, smart phones and live streaming – two essentials of modern-day living – both had their precursors in television, radio, sonar, and telephones. Inventions that came about thanks to the work of Earnest Rutherford and his peers. What’s more, nuclear physics now has applications in medicine, power, and our understanding of the evolution of the cosmos.