Events & News

Science Lab: Our Newest Memory Support Program


Courtyard staff design meaningful activities for residents living with memory loss. Activities that engage multiple senses and involve familiar topics are especially valuable.

residents with memory loss build build structures

The Courtyard at Youville Place provides meaningful, multi-sensory activities for residents living with memory loss. Often, a new program will take root in the mind of a creative staff member, based on their daily interactions with residents. Our newest program, Science Lab, was designed by Nicole Smolko-Jaser, who serves as Life Enrichment Coordinator at The Courtyard. During Science Lab, residents have been learning about basic science concepts and then doing hands-on experiments together to explore them.

cropped science pic 2

Photographs of truss bridges provided a visually appealing blueprint that residents could follow when making their own structures.

Nicole strives to engage residents in activities that engage the senses, are accessible, and have something to do with their lives. “Science lab started when I realized that right now, we have a lot of residents who worked in STEM fields. I wondered how we could capitalize on this experience in our programs.”

For the debut Science Lab program, Nicole discussed engineering principles behind bridges and the structures that support them. She shared printed photographs of bridges that used triangles in their design, such as truss bridges. She then encouraged residents to make their own structures using toothpicks and gumdrops to create triangular support structures. This meaningful project proved to be both tactile and, it must be admitted, delicious!

residents at science lab together

Subsequent projects have included building homemade lava lamps using water, oil, and food coloring to explore the concept of density, as well as ping pong ball launchers to explore physics concepts like acceleration.

“The projects give residents something to make and focus on as an aid to understanding,” says Nicole. “There is definitely a creative flow in the room when they are working on their projects.” Activities that engage multiple senses, such as touch and taste, are known to be especially helpful for people living with cognitive impairment and memory loss.

picture of bridge and model

If you are interested in learning more about the programs we offer at The Courtyard or would like to schedule a tour, please  send us an inquiry.

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