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Childhood, Unplugged

September 20 @ 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm

About the Event:

Outdoor play is associated with positive cognitive, social-emotional, and physical development. In today’s tech-heavy world, children experience more screen time and are savvier than ever engaging with technology. Where can we find balance?

Colorado is rich in outdoor resources, but many families and communities struggle with inequitable access to these resources due to geographic, financial, safety, and other constraints. Fortunately, many public, private, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations and initiatives across the state and country are seeking to address these very issues.

This event will invite attendees to discuss technology and hands-on learning’s impact on child development. We will explore barriers and opportunities to improve equitable access and identify low-cost, low-burden strategies to thoughtfully incorporate good outdoor and experiential learning practices in formal and informal learning environments.


Childhood, Unplugged is presented in partnership with Great Outdoors Colorado and the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico CampusAs this event is after normal museum hours, we are unable to accommodate children at this event.


Event Agenda:

4:00-4:45: Introductory Remarks

4:30-4:45: Keynote Remarks: Dr. Yuko Munakata, Professor, University of Colorado, Boulder, Cognitive Development Center

Dr. Munakata will outline recent research on the importance of free, unstructured play on children’s cognitive and social-emotional development. A cross-sector, interactive panel will build on Dr. Munakata’s remarks. Panelists will share their work encouraging outdoor learning equity and discuss applicable strategies to building a culture of outdoor and hands-on learning.

4:45-5:45: Moderated, Multidisciplinary Response Panel, featuring:

– Sarah Konradi, Program Director, National Wildlife Federation Early Childhood Health Outdoors (ECHO) Initiative

– Mary Mackenzie, ICS Senior Fellow, and Child Care Quality Improvement Consultant

– Justin Svingen, Planner, Public Health Madison and Dane County leading the National League of Cities-funded Connecting Children to Nature Network Initiative

The panel will zoom from the individual, educator-level to coordinated systems building, connecting the dots and exploring low-cost strategies to apply across a variety of disciplines. Attendees are encouraged to participate in this discussion!

5:45-7:00: Networking Reception and Exhibitor Expo, featuring a sneak peek of the Children Museum’s brand new aerial adventure course! Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be served.


Childhood, Unplugged Exhibitor Expo:

The exhibitor expo will connect attendees to the various organizations and government entities working to increase access to outdoor learning experiences. To be held outside in Joy Park, the outdoor play area at the Children’s Museum, the expo is designed to make experiential learning, equity, and early childhood work more visible and tangible to those not directly in the environmental education space.


Exhibitors include:

  • Environmental Learning for Kids
  • The Denver Zoo
  • Generation Wild
  • GOCO’s Inspire Initiative
  • Big Green
  • Colorado Parks and Wildlife SOLE Program
  • National Wildlife Federation’s ECHO (Early Childhood Health Outdoors) Initiative
  • Denver Museum of Nature and Science
  • Save the Children Action Network
  • Project Learning Tree
  • The Grow Haus
  • Colorado State Library’s Check out State Parks Backpack Program

…and more to be announced soon!


September 20
4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
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Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus
2121 Children's Museum Drive
Denver, CO 80211 United States


Institute for Child Success