Featured Sessions at 2017 Conference on the Value of Play

The US Play Coalition is proud to announce its featured sessions for the 2017 Conference on the Value of Play.  The annual conference, whose 2017 theme is “Where Design Meets Play – Bringing Play to Landscapes, Curricula, Programs, Museums, and Beyond,” will be April 2-5 at Clemson University.  Here is a glimpse at the featured speaker lineup…more to come!

“Sometimes It Hurts: Designing Play Environments with as Much Risk-Taking as Possible and as Little Safety as Necessary”
– Moderator / US Perspective: Teri Hendy, Site Masters, Inc.
– European Perspective: Julian Richter, Richter Spielgeraete GmbH
– UK Perspective: Harry Harbottle, CATE Consultancy
– Canadian Perspective: Jennifer Martin, TELUS Spark
This two-part session includes speakers from the US, Germany, the UK and Canada presenting an international view of the role of risk taking in designing children’s play environments.  The panel will focus on the perception of risk vs. the reality; designing for acceptable risk that balances risk and play value; establishing a precedent of risk tolerance; and modeling risky play that creates healthy and innovative communities.

“How Science and Research are Rocking the Play World”
Stuart Brown, MD – Founder of National Institute for Play
Joe Frost, Parker, PhD – Centennial Professor Emeritus, University of Texas
Tom Norquist – Senior Vice President of Product Development & Marketing – PlayCore/GameTime

When Stuart Brown, a pioneer in research on play, and Joe Frost, the contemporary father of play advocacy, are your guides, only magical things can happen!  Tom Norquist, product innovator at GameTime, will lead the conversation with his mentors on how hard science and research are the building blocks of playful design.

“The Genius of Play: Designing an Integrated Program to Help Families Capitalize on Key Developmental Benefits for Their Children”
– Anna Yudina, Director of Marketing Initiatives, Toy Industry Association
– Erik “Dr. E.” Fisher, Ph.D., Psychologist, Media Consultant, Author
– Jackie Retzer, Marketing Communications, Toy Industry Association
– David Gallagher, Chief Program Officer, Playworks
The presentation highlights research findings about parental attitudes towards play and shares best practices for utilizing social media, expert influencers, and partnerships to build a national play movement.

“Designing a Practice of Play”

Dan Harding, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Architecture and Community Design+Build
Clemson University
A question that has remained centric to my personal endeavors as a craftsman, designer, and educator has been seemingly simple: Is it possible to design a Practice based on Play?  Perpetual musing on the premise yields further inquiry into: can we Play at Practice?, and, can we Practice at Play?  In the spirit of a Robert Pirsig Chautauqua, I endeavor to highlight the landscape my work has explored and the territory it has attempted settle.

“Using Empathy to Design School Based Play”
David Gallagher, Chief Program Officer, Playworks
This session will focus on how to have an empathic lens when designing programming for play within schools.


“Lighting with LED . . . The Opportunities and the Challenges”
Joe Crookham, Chief Executive Officer and President, Musco Sports Lighting, LLC
This session will cover LED related issues regarding energy, maintenance, spill, glare, sky glow and the impact of color spectrum choices on both vision and health.  This session will discuss design opportunities and challenges when using diode light devices, LED, to illuminate large areas such as a ball field, play areas and walkways.

“The Future of Schoolyards and Strategies to Work with School Communities to Get Things Funded and Built”

Bambi Yost, Assistant Professor, Landscape Architecture,  Iowa State University, will share lessons learned from  her time as Project Manager and researcher on Denver Public School’s Learning Landscapes schoolyards.

“Playing Outside the Lines: Play As A Metaphor for Life”
Erik “Dr. E.” Fisher, Ph.D., Psychologist, Media Consultant, Author
Often we teach kids to play games by the rules, and there is definitely a value to this. However, what can happen when you  take play and the game beyond the rules and look to what play can teach about the child and what you can teach children about life through play?

“BrandNewNoise: Where Design Meets Play”
Richard Upchurch, Founder of BrandNewNoise
Explore the inspiration and process behind the brand’s creative sound gadgets. It started out as a simple voice recorder made from the electronics of a $2 toy and some wood scraps – a simple design.  Today BrandNewNoise is making handcrafted sound gadgets for all kids, musicians, lovers, and aliens looking to explore – even celebrity soundmakers like the Black Keys.  Each recorder is handmade in Brooklyn, NY out of American sustainable wood. Richard’s talk will focus on how the simplicity in design leads to creative input and play for the end user.

“Placemaking Leads To Playmaking: How Edible & Medicinal Gardens Make Serenbe More Playful”
Steve Nygren – President of Serenbe
After escaping Atlanta to rural South Fulton, Steve Nygren noticed the positive affect nature had on his daughters. They were happier, more relaxed and chose nature over toys. He then set out to create a built environment that would not only cater to play, but encourage it.”  Serenbe is a progressive community connected to nature on the edge of Atlanta.  Serenbe’s architectural planning sets a new standard for community living.  Steve’s presentation will share the specific ways nature makes children healthier, happier and smarter, how increased access to nature transforms our culture, and show how edible and medicinal gardens encourage outdoor play.

 “Ten Strategies to Get a C in Play”
Michael Bryant, Director of Educational Program Activation at Discovery Education
At Discovery Education, Michael Bryant was instrumental in the launch of Techbooks, powerful digital resources instead of the traditional textbook. Currently, Mike works with corporate and non-profit partners to craft engaging free programs and resources for students all over the world. From hosting virtual field trips at a Ford plant to immersing himself in a STEM lab for the Tiger Woods Foundation, Mike works to ensure all educators and students have access to the best resources. Michael’s featured session will focus on the 4Cs (Collaborate, Create, Communicate and Critical Thinking) and strategies & resources Discovery Education has found to work well before, during and after school.