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Group 11: Adapted Playground


The goal of group 11 is to design and create an outdoor activity area to meet the requirements discussed with the client and therapist to improve the gross motor skills of a small child while also considering the child’s siblings.

Right to left: Josh Hamilton, Tyler Rich, Ben Visneski *Not pictured: Caleb Dunlap

Problem Statement

The assigned task is to design and create an outdoor activity area to improve the motor skills of a two-year-old child while also making it a fun and engaging area for all of the children in the family. There are seven (soon to be eight) children ranging from toddlers up to eleven years old which requires activities that accommodate both younger and older children. When asked about the activity area, it was requested that the kids could jump, climb, and swing as well as anything else to tire them out and get rid of all their energy. This is because of the limited space inside, which lead to rough housing and jumping around in inappropriate places. The overall goal is to provide, most importantly, a space for the two year old child to expend energy and improve gross motor skills, while also considering how all of the other children in the house can participate. This project was given to us as an open canvas with plenty of opportunity for creativity.

Design Specifications

The main requests for this activity area were the ability for the child to jump, climb, and expel energy, all of which would also improve the motor skills of the child. We used these request decide on what activities we should incorporate into the activity area. Another factor we had to consider is what materials would be best for this project. Considering this is an outdoor activity area, it needs to be able to withstand the environmental conditions as well as being strong enough to support the children playing on it.

Background Research

To meet the request provided, we researched different types of activities that help improve a child’s gross motor skills such as trampolines, hopscotch, and obstacle courses. Then we reflected back to when we were kids to think of what playground equipment we remembered to be the most fun and researched some new playground equipment as well and picked out what we believed would be the most fun while also improving motor skills. We then found and studied an Air Pogo which can combine jumping, climbing, and motor skill development into one. We also found unstable bridges, monkey bars, and rock walls to be great at gross motor skill development.

When conducting research on materials, we found two options which were recycled plastic and wood. The recycled plastic would be capable of handling the weather experienced in the outside environment, but it was also very expensive with a cost of almost $90 for an eight-feet-long 2×4. Even though wood would not perform as well as plastic outside, it does perform well enough for our application and with a much cheaper price of less than $10 for an eight-feet-long 2×4.

Concept Design 1

Swing/Slide Combo: This is the traditional play area most kids had to play on as they were growing up. They typically come in a kit and are made of wood with a simple structure consisting of a ladder to a platform with a slide to go down, as well as a piece that branches off from the side to support a couple of swings.

Concept Design 2

Traditional Playground: The traditional playground concept reflects what would be found at a school or park. There are multiple different pieces of playground equipment that are unconnected and scattered around the area where there is at least one thing that every kid will enjoy.

Concept Design 3

Ground Level Ropes Course: This concept is what would be found at a summer camp or at similar places. There are multiple obstacles connected where the child has to use balance and coordination to make it across the course. A ropes course can also incorporate the use of teamwork by getting older and experienced kids to help the younger and unexperienced kids cross the obstacle courses.

Selected Concept Design

After weighing the requirements against the ability of each concept to satisfy these requirements, the decision was made to use the ground level ropes course concept. The decision matrix we used takes different characteristics that are considered in the design process and weighs them based off their importance and then the concepts are graded off of their ability to complete each of these. The results are then summed and compared to the other concepts, and in this case, it is obvious when looking at the decision matrix that the ground level ropes courses satisfied the requirements the best.

Decision Matrix

Overview of Selected Design

The ground level ropes course combines different obstacles into one. We chose to incorporate some of the swing/slide combination concept into our design since most kids really enjoy them. For obstacles, we chose a rock wall, rope bridge and cargo net for improvement of gross motor skills. We also chose to incorporate an air pogo which combines the jumping motion of a pogo stick and the swinging motion of a swing to satisfy the request of being able to jump and the combination of swinging and jumping will help a lot with improving balance and coordination while also being a very fun activity.

Engineering Analysis 1

The first analysis is focused on the metal hooks that connect the rope for the bridge to the 4×4 to support it. The factor of safety is two for a fifty pound load which is how much the hook on one side of the bridge would have to support if a one hundred pound person was standing on the bridge.

Engineering Analysis 2

The second analysis was completed on a 4×4 where the dimensions are actually 3.5 x 3.5. The normal stress for Southern Yellow Pine is 1300 psi. With the weight of a two hundred pound person, it yields a factor of safety of four.

Engineering Analysis 3

The third analysis is on the rope that we are using for the rope bridge. The analysis is done with a two hundred pound load which produces a load of one hundred and three pounds on the ropes from each side. The average tensile strength of the rope is 6200 pounds which is more than strong enough for our application.

Bill of Materials

Document Fabrication Process

We started by building the frame and attaching all the side pieces to it. Then the structure for the swing set and the bridge was assembled and attached to the main frame. After that, brackets where made for the rope bridge for extra support and then the rock wall was built and all the other smaller accessories where attached to complete the activity area.

Testing Results

We tested the strengths of these products during the construction of the activity area. The main structure supported the weight of three adult men on the platform and the swings, bridge, cargo net, and rock wall were also tested by us after construction since we weigh more than the kids.

Here are links to test runs through this playground.

Completed Design Photos

Instructions for Safe Use

The activity area is designed for kids so it is safe as long as the equipment is used properly.


2021 Spring