Playground designers often make neat-looking, symmetrical, standardized playgrounds. But do kids actually like them? Or do they just look better to adult eyes?
When asked to play architect and create their own jumping stone configurations, most kids chose to make ones that were messy, with different width gaps between the stones.
And the same preference carries forward to real playgrounds.
Researchers set up two configurations of jumping stones in a park, one standardized and symmetrical (below right), the other varied (below left) and measured how much time children spent playing in them. Children spent more time on the configuration that was varied, and also preferred how it looked. Symmetric playgrounds might look neater and nicer to adults, but they're kinda boring for kids.