SAN FRANCISCO, CA (December 6, 2021) - This winter, the California Academy of Sciences’ East Garden will be transformed into a wonderland of discovery with a new hands-on, nature play and exploration space: Wander Woods, opening Friday, January 14, 2022.
Situated outdoors beneath beautiful old-growth cypress trees overlooking Golden Gate Park, Wander Woods offers multi-sensory discovery and learning opportunities through areas dedicated to imaginative play activities. Winding pathways take visitors on an exploration of the garden, revealing a hands-on area where guests can build their own den from natural materials, a space for nature-driven creativity and honing fine motor skills, a log tunnel to crawl through, and a hillside nest and perch that provides a thrilling new view of the entire garden.
“Wander Woods will offer hands-on experiences that unleash imaginations and foster a deep connection with nature. This kind of place-based environmental learning is powerful, helping children view themselves as part of, not apart from, the natural world,” said Scott Sampson, Executive Director of the California Academy of Sciences. “Understanding that we are embedded in the places we live is a critical step on the path to regenerate the natural world and ensure a healthy Earth for generations to come.”
To create this unique new space, the Academy partnered with renowned nature-based playspace designers and builders Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds. "It was a true pleasure to design and build this park,” said Adam Bienenstock, Founder and CEO of Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds. “What emerged from the collaborative process is a place for the young and old to find a reprieve from the city to connect to nature and each other. The Academy’s commitment to these connections are not only shown in their investment in creating this space but the ongoing programming of it.”
Constructed from locally-sourced materials like salvaged tree trunks, Wander Woods features a variety of stroller- and wheelchair-accessible outdoor spaces that provide visitors an immersive way to explore the natural world. From observing a bug crawl to balancing on a log, Wander Woods promotes inquiry-based activities that nurture collaboration and complex reasoning. Although Wander Woods is ideal for children up to 12 years of age, guests of all ages can reflect, recharge, and reawaken their connection to nature in the Academy’s newest outdoor space.
In addition to self-directed outdoor play that stretches the body and opens the mind to creative thinking and problem-solving, Wander Woods will feature pop-up facilitated nature play activities and seasonal public programs.
Media will have the opportunity to visit the exhibit at a press preview on Thursday, January 13 at 9:30 am. The dedication will include remarks from Executive Director Scott Sampson and special activities to mark the occasion, more details to be announced. If you would like to attend the media preview please email email@example.com.