Junk, play, creativity and science

inside a warehouse with play equipment

Close your eyes and imagine a world ruled only by kids. A world where play, creativity and science skip hand-in-hand down a path built in, from and surrounded by a huge pile of junk.

Looks awesome doesn’t it? Welcome to The Junk Playground. A recycled loose-parts STEM exploration and adventure! This is a world where ideas are tested, concepts explored and connections are made. Neural and community.

The Junk Playground offers a missing piece of the puzzle to bring the benefits of loose-parts and nature-play to the streets. A carefully curated and ever-changing “pile of junk” invites kids of all ages to dive in head first and explore. For the grown-ups it might feel somehow familiar, with recognisable items like milk-crates and old tyres, and styles of risky play from a bygone era. Something from your childhood. Like riding your bike until the street lights come on. Or playing at your friend’s place. You know the one who had the cool parents that let you tinker with tools, build things or climb on the roof?

Unstructured child-led STEM exploration through play will help to grow tomorrow’s out of the box thinkers on everything from technology to climate change

Junkyard Rascals is bringing their unusual brand of this STEM-inspired play mayhem to the South Coast, creating a series of pop-up playgrounds at events in the Illawarra, Shellharbour, Shoalhaven and Eurobodalla regions. Each pop-up is themed around a different scientific concept related to the different community events.

The first installment of the 4-part play series is happening at Spin Fest in the Illawarra as part of a city-wide community celebration. As the world’s best cyclists arrive in Wollongong for the UCI Road World Championships, Wollongong is set to come alive with a free program of live music, art, entertainment, fun and of course science!

The play mayhem will take over the Arts Precinct with The Junk Playground as well as a stage show with a live junk-engineering “build off” taking place between two local engineers/cycling enthusiasts. They must create a bike using nothing but the junk they are provided, sometimes blindfolded and all whilst answering questions and doing demos about physics, forces and what brought them into the world of engineering. Limited resources, limited time-frame, lots of (un)planned interruptions and fun!

The Wollongong event is delivered in collaboration with Wollongong City Council Cultural Development and Community Engagement teams, Nan Tien Temple, ACON, Various local artists and The Disability Trust.

Junkyard Rascals uses 100% second-hand, recycled and natural materials and encourages a self-guided exploration of scientific concepts via curated materials provided for play. For this event series an expert-led “chat and challenge” occurs before or during each pop-up, provoking an exploration of the scientific themes of the day. The format of the “chat and challenge” varies for each event.

The Junk Playground is popping up as part of Spin Fest Wollongong on 24th September 2022 from 12-5pm with the Junk Engineering onstage from 12:30-1pm

Guest post by Quill Darby of Junkyard Rascals.