Claire Squire

BA Honors | Industrial Design


I grew up in awe of the natural world, and spent most of my childhood outside, exploring nearby beaches, woods, and fields. I carry that awe with me today as I pursue my passion for sustainability as a graduating industrial design student. I understand design as my lens to explore implicit social problems. I am intrigued by the power of design to promote good. I am also intrigued by a good playlist, patterned socks, crossword puzzles, and anything green.


The Potawatomi Zoo is keen to adopt sustainability initiatives (like nature play) as they approach a five-year accreditation review from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Because AZA-accredited institutions are gateways for millions of people to discover the diversity of the natural world, the organization encourages its institutions to serve as leaders in not only wildlife conservation but also environmental responsibility. AZA-accredited institutions are uniquely placed to make an impact on their visitors’ every day environmentally responsible behaviors, especially if the institution engages visitors in multimodal learning.

“Let’s Play” not only promotes multimodal learning through nature play, but also distinguishes those moments of learning through child development benchmarks. To determine these child development benchmarks, and best learn how to engage visitors of all ages in learning, I performed a diverse range of primary and secondary research methods. The methods included but were not limited to: 40 surveys from staff members at the zoo, 15 interviews from families visiting the zoo, eight interviews with education and nature play specialists, three observations at metropolitan zoos, and one play date with three children. My varied research methods offered me a breadth of knowledge to propose “Let’s Play” as a strategy for the Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend, IN to engage visitors of all ages in nature play.