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Students create imaginative outdoor learning space



​Cardiff School of Art and Design student volunteers at the Outdoor Learning Space.

​A group of students have recently re-energised a tired un-used outdoor space at Cyncoed campus and transformed it into a colourful installation perfect as an outdoor play, learning and teaching space.

The team of students from Cardiff School of Art and Design volunteered their time, using many of their evenings and weekends using their winning design to realise the project and transform the space. This collaborative project aimed to extend and complement the already existing Outdoor Learning Centre that was established in April 2015. The space will have a significant impact for students studying Early Childhood Studies and Primary Education Studies as it will provide an additional space to provide workshops with students, teachers, school pupils and the local community.

The colourful installation was reactive to a live brief sent out by Chantelle Haughton senior lecturer in CSE and Olivia Kotsifa lecturer in CSAD. Year 3 students Alice Croot in CSAD and Ieaun Gardiner in CSE were instrumental in leading the student volunteer squads involved and in realising Chantelle's and Olivia's concepts for the project. The space was entirely re-designed by the students on a modest budget, a truly collaborative project with CSE, CSAD, Estates, Campus Services, three local primary schools and Play Wales working together. All items included in the installation, such as the story making cabinets and loose parts play boxes were designed and hand-made using Cardiff School of Art and Design's FabLab. Students and staff visited a range of play projects researching different ways of working.

Funding for this project was gained from a bid to The Student Experience Fund. The Development and Alumni Relations Office at Cardiff Met receive philanthropic donations from alumni, staff, former staff and friends of the University to benefit a variety of projects. At the start of 2016, thanks to these donations, the Student Experience Fund was established. The Outdoor Learning Centre's recent installation was a result of Cardiff Art and Design students successfully pitching their project idea and being granted funding.

Senior Lecturer and qualified Forest School Leader Chantelle Haughton commented on the success of the new colourful space, "Our aim with Outdoor Play and Learning is to offer the ideal environment to maximise learning; to explore issues, such as the value and challenges of play and learning, sustainability; to nurture new skills and ultimately for all of this to be done through working with lively innovative practice maximising the use of the outdoors."

"Our outdoor learning team has gained an excellent reputation for delivering high quality courses to our students, external practitioners and for initiating community-based social inclusion projects. We are delighted to now have additional space to compliment the experience we are providing for all. This collaborative project highlights the invaluable contribution that can be provided when students and staff from across the University work together. It was a lot of fun too".

The installation will have an official opening later this term.