Sound & Noise in the Playground

The DEP has a new and improved education module on Sound and Noise in the city, and your school’s playground offers the perfect outdoor classroom to begin the lesson. I love how this lesson connects citizen science to an issue that impacts the wellness of students everyday.

“These interactive, multi-disciplinary, STEM lessons and activities introduce students and teachers to the study of the New York City sound environment and the public health issues, both mental and physical, associated with noise. These lessons and activities encourage students and teachers to participate in citizen science projects by collecting and analyzing data in their own neighborhoods.”

A student at PS 184M maps his existing playground to prepare for the design process of his new schoolyard. These students avoided the noise of the west side highway by placing their outdoor classroom and garden closer to the school building.

During the design phase of our Trust for Public Land playgrounds, students assess the current conditions of their playground using the Seven Ss: Shape, Size, Sun/Shade, Slope, Site History, and Surroundings/Sound. We have students close thier eyes and listen to the sounds of their neighborhood. They then journal in their design notebooks on what they heard, if it sounds quiet or busy, if the neighbors are homes or businesses, and which spots are the noisiest in the playground.

Note how you can’t even see 10th Ave now that these trees have matured. The noise has definietly been buffered.

This data informs their design: they might deside to put a noise buffer of trees along a noisey avenue, for instance. You can see here how the students of PS 111 put an entire forest walk along the 10th avenue-facing side of their Hell’s Kitchen playground, cutting down on some of the traffic noise. Note that they put the outdoor classroom a little farther from the avenue to allow for quieter lessons, chatting, and peaceful moments with nature.

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