Discovery Pond, the newest enhancement to the Tacoma Nature Center located in the heart of Tacoma, celebrated its Grand Opening Sept. 11 during a ribbon cutting ceremony followed by day-long festivities of the Grand Opening celebration.
The nature-themed space is filled with unconventional, hand-crafted play features that encourage children to crawl, climb, slither and slide through elements replicating a miniature wetland.
Discovery Pond is designed to build early connections to the natural world through creative play and environmental learning. Children can slide through the center of a hollow log, scale the interior of a snag, navigate a log crossing a pond with cascading waterfalls, or meet up with friends in a tree house that features a wheelchair accessible entrance.
“When Richard Louv enlightened us all in his 2006 book ‘Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder,’ our Tacoma Nature Center staff was a ready audience,” said Gary Geddes, Metro Parks Tacoma’s Director of Zoological and Environmental Education.
Through outreach and on-site programs, Tacoma Nature Center staff generated a host of ideas about ways Metro Parks could have an impact with youngsters. With 2005 bond funds and an appealing concept for grant support, Discovery Pond, complete with its tree house, boulder scramble, waterfalls, clamoring logs, and more was born.
“Discovery Pond is a place where adventure and learning happen naturally,” said Tacoma Nature Center program manager Michele Cardinaux. “It promises to be one of the most active and inspiring children’s activity spaces in our region.”
Discovery Pond provides a natural environment in which children and families can begin a relationship with outdoor exploration. The play area supplements the programming of the adjacent Nature Center where visitors can participate in environmental education programs, or explore a 2.5-mile trail system that guides visitors across Snake Lake and through the 71-acre urban oasis.
Funding for the new $870,000 play space was made possible through the 2005 Park Improvement Bond, and a competitive Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) grant.
Discovery Pond is free to the public on a daily basis. Party rental reservations are also available to help offset the maintenance and operation costs for this new community asset. For more details, visit http://www.TacomaNatureCenter.org .