Frequently Asked Questions

Click to expand the questions below for more information. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

Our location at Alvernon and Irvington is accessible to most of Tucson along major roadways.

By Aviation Parkway, we’re just 12 minutes from downtown or 13 minutes from the UA.

If you live on the East Side, Second Sky is a closer destination than downtown. We are 22 minutes from Houghton and Broadway via Golf Links and Contractor’s Way. We’re 10 minutes from Davis Monthan.

If you live in the Foothills, we are 20-25 minutes straight down Alvernon.

We are just 10 minutes from Littletown and 20 minutes from Vail.

“Second Sky” refers to the overarching dome structures that hold plants, stained glass, and shade cloth. Much of our programming is outdoors, but protected from the sun. We offer a second sky beneath the Tucson sky.

“Science Garden and Social Club” refers to what we are. We combine nature, science and community. We are a place you can go every day and a place where you can come for special events.

Our landscaping plan is to become a regenerative landscape with trees and undergrowth that uses passive water harvesting. In the short term, we will use vines and container plants to maximize the amount of plant matter relative to water use.

Most sites are limited in the amount of rainwater they can direct towards planted areas, but we are located on an 8-acre lot. Through grading, we will be harvesting approximately three acres of rainfall and channeling it towards roughly one acre of outdoor space with plantings. Passive water harvesting will go a long way. But during our first five years, we will supplement with City water. As much as possible that water will serve other uses before irrigation.

There is a growing consensus that opportunities for child-directed risky play is essential for the development of resilience, confidence and the life-long safety of children.

There are some key differences between an adventure playground and commercial playgrounds. An adventure playground concentrates on open-ended, kid-directed activities that typically take longer periods of time, encourage problem solving and self-direction. A typically commercial playground is unsupervised, while an adventure playground is staffed by adults – trained playworkers who intervene only when necessary and encourage kids without directing them. A third difference is that this adventure playground is a place where people choose to go, through programs or memberships. It is their playground. And when a place is ‘theirs’ they take better care of it. 

Adventure playgrounds like Second Sky provide children the opportunity to expand their boundaries in a safe setting. Feeling risk and navigating it is a psychological achievement that does not require the presence of true hazards (objective danger). Consider a child who has made a rickety pathway 12 inches above the ground and is navigating it by balancing, testing every step. The child gets all the benefit of risk but without significant hazard. Consider a group of kids who put together a zipline a few feet above the ground that ends in a sand pile: high ‘risk’ but low hazard.

Studies show that properly managed adventure playgrounds actually have a lower incidence of injury than commercial playgrounds. We work with two nationally-recognized authorities on playground safety and have incorporated their guidance into our design.

For more on the benefits of adventure playgrounds and objective analysis of their risk, see the following:

We’re both. We have 1.3 acres and tons of stuff to do so there is room for everything. We believe that most recreational venues go too far in segmenting their audience. Look at any European city square, most villages around the world, and at 100,000 years of human evolution and you’ll see mixed ages congregating in small groups that overlap. It’s how kids learn what adult life is like and how adults stay young at heart.

There is no reason why the same 1.3 acres cannot be home to a group of young singles doing a happy hour bodyweight exercise, some businesspeople closing a deal over drinks, a home-school group doing a STEM activity, and an after-school group building structures while waiting for their caregivers.

We’re not focused on drinking alcohol. There is so much else to do. But many adults like to have a social drink or two while relaxing with their peers and family members. We plan to serve a nice selection of beer and wine as well as healthy soft drinks and good fast-casual food.

Two reasons: 1) we want people to spend long periods of time together in the space, and this means we need to feed and hydrate them. We don’t want them to get in car and drive somewhere else to get a bite to eat. If care-givers can feed their kids at Second Sky when they pick them up, they can stay for more family play or evening events rather than rushing off to feed the kids. 2) Non-profits need three sources of income: startup capital, program funding, and operations funding. We think we have the first two covered. Many non-profits struggle to fund their baseline operating budget. Our research suggests that food, beverage and events will supply this operating budget and allow us to funnel all donations and sponsorships directly into the space and programs.

Creative Machines is a Tucson company with 30 years experience creating museum exhibits, monumental sculptures, and designing novel urban spaces for clients around the world. Second Sky is located on the SE corner of Creative Machines’ 8-acre campus. Creative Machines has designed the initial set of experiences in Second Sky and will continue to maintain them, but the two organizations are legally, financially and organizationally separate. Many Tucson residents have visited Creative Machines and enjoyed open houses, TED talks, performances, and interactive STEAM experiences. Again and again, the visiting public and other non-profits have asked Creative Machines if they could offer more of this programming. Creative Machines has determined that the best way to accomplish this public-facing goal is for a separate non-profit to take on this function on a full-time basis. This is what led us to create Second Sky. At some point Second Sky may move off the Creative Machines campus, may expand to other locations, or offer its own services. It will have its own story but it will begin with lots of help from Creative Machines.

There is no formal relationship but Second Sky was planned in close conversation with CMT. Both organizations serve families, but in different ways. And we serve different neighborhoods. Tucson needs both Second Sky and CMT. We are not in competition.

Tucson has many non-profits that help families and we are in touch with many of them. One of the biggest needs they express is for a space like this to house their programs. Our goal isn’t to compete with existing non-profits, but to be a resource for them.

We believe that to permanently improve social and economic inequality we need to encourage widespread mixing across social and economic lines that are not often crossed. The intellectual basis for this project is the research on social mixing published in Nature in August 2022 and summarized in this article and on this website. In a nutshell, lack of community is one of the United States’ biggest problems and it keeps people of all income levels isolated in silos. Recreational facilities are one of the best ways to break down those barriers. And community across social and economic barriers leads to permanent social and economic mobility.

Rich or poor, we all make choices with limited time and money. Here’s how Second Sky aims to encourage community while not requiring anyone to spend additional time, money, or miles driven. On a typical weekday, buses bring groups of kids from school for after-school programs administered by Higher Ground, Boys and Girls Club, or Kidco. In most after-school programs, parents are required to pick up their kids from after-school programs at 5:30. Typically parents have to rush from work, rush their kids off to get food, then to home where maybe there is time for homework before bed. But at Second Sky, parents can linger with other adults a bit longer while their kids are playing productively in a supervised space. They can get a fast casual dinner with their families, and then choose whether to attend evening programs on homework help, STEM competitions, stargazing, a rocket launch, energy-saving home updates, applying to college, etc. By including many activities and interests in one space, we reduce the number of solitary miles driven and increase the time spent together in productive community.

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