The Science and Application of Play

March 22, 2022 - March 24, 2022 | Zoom and In Person



Join us for The Science and Application of Play, March 22-24, an in-person and virtual event co-sponsored with the WorkLife Office and Stanford Recreation and Wellness. Explore how play can boost your personal and professional well-being through expert-led talks and activities that will help you integrate play into your daily life. Drop-in for a session or stay all day. You can view the day’s schedule, speakers, and session descriptions below.


Register for event sessions

Tuesday, March 22

12:00 – 1:30 p.m. | Day of Play (In-person)

Stanford Recreation & Wellness | Stanford Square (Stanford Redwood City) 505 Broadway Redwood City, CA 94063

Take a break from your day to… PLAY with Recreation and Wellness! Please join us outside in Stanford Square for snacks, refreshments, a DJ and fun lawn games like bean bag toss, Spikeball, Kanjam and more. We’ll also be offering giveaways while supplies last and a prize drawing!  All are welcome to this free event; pre-registration is recommended. This session will be co-hosted by Stanford Redwood City Campus Service and Stanford Recreation and Wellness. If you are driving to campus for this event, please visit the Stanford transportation website for information about parking at Stanford Redwood City


Wednesday, March 23


11:00 AM – 12:00 p.m. | Laughter Yoga for Health and Happiness (Zoom)

Bring more laughter and joy into your life through the daily practice of laughter. Dr. Kataria will teach you how to reduce stress, strengthen your immune system, and keep the mind positive during these challenging times.


Instructor: Madan Kataria, MD is the founder and originator of the Laughter Yoga movement worldwide. A medical doctor from Mumbai, India, he is popularly known as the “Guru of Giggling” (London Times). He started the first laughter club with just five people in 1995. It has grown into a worldwide movement of more than 16,000 Laughter Yoga clubs in over 100 countries.



12:00 – 1:00 p.m. | What Nature Needs You to Know About Play (Zoom)

Humans are hard-wired to play throughout our life. Join this noontime session to learn about the many benefits of play and the dire consequences when it is severely missed. 

Instructor: Stuart Brown, MD was trained in general and internal medicine, psychiatry and clinical research. His scientific exploration of play led to the establishment of the National Institute for Play. He was the instigator and executive producer of the PBS series “The Promise of Play” and co-produced the series “Soul of the Universe.” He was a medical administrator, producer and scientific consultant to many other productions. His writings have identified him as the “practical champion of the knowledge of play.” Dr. Brown’s book: Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul has been translated into twelve languages. He co-teaches From Play to Innovation at Stanford University, and has been the “Key Strategist” for the Nevada Medical Center’s Global Play Science Institute. In 2020 he was awarded the Joe L. Frost Award for distinguished research by the USA Play Coalition. In addition to creative scholarly contributions for the PlayCore company, he enjoys consulting on play and its many contributions to human well-being. 



1:00 – 2:00 p.m. | CreativePlay Energy Booster; Fun With Hands-on Art (Zoom)

Learn about the therapeutic value of art and how simple guided meditation, along with doodling and playing with color, can effectively calm your nervous system and provide pleasure and meaning to your everyday life. Discover how colorful sensory experiences with crayons and markers promote healthy brain development for people of all ages and why the rhythmic use of simple, everyday art materials can provide you and your family with a rich and accessible tool for self-care. For this session, it is recommended that you bring the following items: white paper (6 pieces), crayons, black Sharpie marker, and colored pencils or colored markers.

Instructor: Anna Reyner, MA, ATR, LMFT, is the founder of CreativePlayLA, a training and consulting business that uses art-based approaches to positively impact children and families living in disadvantaged, low-income communities. She has successfully merged the principles of art therapy into early childhood education and specializes in helping teachers add trauma-informed art into their classrooms. Anna is the author of two award-winning books, Smart Art and Smart Art 2, and has presented over 800 trainings at state, national and international conferences in her 40 years as a teacher, art therapist and mental health advocate.


Thursday, March 24


11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.: Hula Hooping: Evoking Joy and Fostering Well-Being Through Body and Movement Play (Zoom)

You will need a hula hoop to participate in this session. If you don’t have one, you may purchase a hula hoop from a vendor of your choice (some recommendations include  Amazon or Synergy FlowArts). This session will offer a brief overview of the science of play, the effect of joy and its connection to well-being, the benefits of play throughout the lifespan and the experiential process of hula hooping as a form of body and movement play. It will also include a moment of self-reflection exploring how to weave more play into your life. 

Instructor: Caroline Cárdenas, MSN, MA, RN, CBCN, is a doctoral candidate in psychology researching the effects of movement play on professionals experiencing compassion fatigue. She has served as an oncology and hospice nurse for over 17 years. She is the creator of The Hula Hoop Girl where she guides helping professionals through the experiential process of play to evoke joy and restore well-being. Caroline is featured in KPJR Films documentary, PLAYING FOR KEEPS, where she is highlighted as a high-performing healthcare professional who prioritizes play as essential to a more joyous life.




12:00 – 1:00 p.m. | Improvisation: Imagination and Agility Through Play (Zoom)

This is a hands-on, interactive, on-camera experience in playful collaboration. We will examine and experience the fundamental concepts of the Improviser’s Mindset: pay attention, build on ideas, make your partner look good, celebrate mistakes. This will be a chance to safely take creative risks, fail cheerfully and delight in discovery. Please come ready to participate in breakout rooms, preferably on camera.

Instructor: Dan Klein teaches improvisation full time at Stanford. He is a lecturer in the Department of Theater and Performance Studies and the Graduate School of Business, and teaches leadership communication for the Knight Hennessey Scholars. He was formerly the Dean of the School for BATS Improv, a premier improv theater in San Francisco. When he is not on the farm, he travels the world (sometimes virtually) leading workshops on creativity, power, storytelling and collaboration for organizations like Google, Apple, Facebook, LinkedIn, Visa, Blackrock, First Republic Bank, Clorox, Nestle, LucasFilm and the Kahn Academy.



1:00 – 2:00 p.m.| The Importance of PLAY (Zoom)

Tackle two design challenges that show how whimsy, engineering and play combine. We will discuss how play can build skills like perseverance. This is hands-on so get ready to build and share! Please come prepared with the recommended supplies.

Instructor: Lauren Cage has been with The Tech Interactive in San Jose, CA since 2012, where she has held several educator roles. She currently serves as a Content Developer, developing lesson plans and professional development for educators. She has previously held educator roles at the Children Discovery Museum of San Jose and David Owsley Museum of Art in Muncie, Indiana. Pre-COVID, Lauren developed and ran S.T.E.A.M. workshops for youth and multiple workshops for the nationally recognized Make-HER series at Sunnyvale Library. 


3:30 – 5:00 p.m. | Day of Play (In-person)

Stanford Recreation & Wellness | Roble Field (Main Campus)

Take a break from your day to… PLAY with Recreation and Wellness! Please join us outside at Roble Field for snacks, refreshments, a DJ and fun games like bean bag toss, ladder ball, Jenga and more. All are welcome to enjoy this free event. Pre-registration is recommended.