WSU Makes Science and Arts as Easy as Play in the Park

OGDEN, Utah – Hundreds of Utah school children will create, invent and lean about science and the arts all while having fun at the park this summer.

The seventh annual Science in the Parks and the fourth annual Arts in the Parks programs are set to get under way for six weeks in June and July.

The programs partner with the Ogden School District summer lunch program. While students eat lunch, they spend an hour participating in hands-on learning activities.

WSU physics professor Adam Johnston, who envisioned and developed Science in the Parks, said the idea of mixing play and science is getting increased attention.

“Having kids tinker and create is something that is natural to children,” Johnston said. “Showing them that this is at the heart of science is exactly what we want them to understand.”

WSU alumnus Ryan Nixon worked as a student organizer with Science in the Parks for two years. He gained a great appreciation for the curiosity and inventiveness of children. After teaching three years in the Provo School District, he is now pursuing a doctoral degree in science education at the University of Georgia.

“I think Science in the Parks definitely helped me be a better teacher and helped me get a higher vision of what teaching can be,” Nixon said. “I learned to not worry about kids getting stuck on the way I did things. I wanted to send the message that exploration was safe. I got them started, and then they went off on their own. I adopted this philosophy in my own classroom.”

Each day of the week, participants engage in a different activity. On Mondays, during the week of arts, children create their own work of art; Tuesdays they get involved in music and dance; Wednesdays are for puppets and theater; Thursdays and Fridays allow time for the children to express themselves in writing.

"Arts in the Parks activities encourage innovative thinking through imaginative experimentation with everyday materials,” said Lydia Gravis, co-director of Arts in the Parks. “By engaging young people in these activities, we plant a seed for creative curiosity that can be cultivated year round, both at home and in the classroom."

During their week of science fun, on Mondays, families get to play with lenses and make rainbows; Wednesdays, they create magnetic structures and float aluminum boats; Friday is “Feel It” day where they create foaming chemical reactions and various slimes and goo.

The dates and locations for this summer’s schedule are as follows:

Arts in the Parks
  • June 3-7: Lorin Farr Park (769 Canyon Road, Ogden)   
  • June 10-14: Liberty Park (751 21st St., Ogden) 
  • June 17-21:  Monroe Park (850 30th St., Ogden)
  • June 24-28:  Jaycee Park (2564 Fillmore Ave., Ogden)  
  • July 1 - 3: Mount Ogden Park (3144 Taylor Ave., Ogden)         
  • July 8-12: West Ogden Park (751 24th St., Ogden)
Science in the Parks
  • June 10-14 Lorin Farr Park (769 Canyon Road, Ogden)
  • June 17-21 Liberty Park (751 21st St., Ogden) 
  • June 24-28 Monroe Park (850 30th St., Ogden)  
  • July 1-3 Jaycee Park (2564 Fillmore Ave., Ogden) (Note the July 4-5 holiday break)
  • July 8-12 Mt. Ogden Park (3144 Taylor Ave., Ogden)
  • July 15-19 West Ogden Park (751 24th St., Ogden)

“All activities offer entry to the arts for children of all ages,” said WSU history professor and arts program co-director Kathryn MacKay. “Many offer the opportunity for children to take home their own creations, ranging from string telephones to musical instruments, paintings to bags of homemade silly putty.” 

In addition to Weber State and the Ogden School District, supporters of the two series include Weber County RAMP (recreation, arts, museums, parks), the Alan E. and Jeanne N. Hall Endowment for Community Outreach, the Val A. Browning Foundation and the Utah Families Foundation.

Thanks to sponsors and volunteers, the programs are free to children of all ages. For information about volunteering or to find a schedule for Science in the Parks, visit For more about Arts in the Parks, visit

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Adam Johnston, director Science in the Parks
801-626-7711 •

Ryan Nixon, former student organizer Science in the Parks

Lydia Gravis, co-director Arts in the Parks
801-626-7689 •

Kathryn Mackay, co-director Arts in the Parks
801-626-6782 •
Allison Barlow Hess, director of Public Relations
801-626-7948 •