Plans for a science-oriented playground in Manila Park are taking shape while money for the project rolls in.

Volunteer organizers of what will now be called the Novell Children's Discovery Park are nearing their $200,000 fund-raising goal. On Monday morning, David Bradford, Novell senior vice president of strategic relations, handed Mayor Lloyd Ash a $50,000 check from the software company. Volunteers have now raised $185,000.The one-acre playground will give children a place to learn science through a variety of hands-on activities such as a space shuttle replica and a dinosaur bone sandbox. The playground was designed based on Pleasant Grove and Lindon schoolchildren's ideas.

Parents, children and other volunteers are scheduled to blitz-build the park over a nine-day period beginning May 2.

"A lot has to happen between now and then. But it's coming along," said Bill Raventos, a project volunteer.

Prospects for raising the money looked bleak for organizers two months ago. "Things really kicked in after Christmas," he said. Volunteers sold tiles imprinted with donors' hand, name and age and banister slats bearing the name of individual or business contributors.

In addition to cash, Raventos said local construction firms have donated materials and labor needed for playground construction. Novell will allow employees time off work to help.

Organizers also have planned an April 25 luncheon for county business leaders at which former Utah senator and astronaut Jake Garn will speak. Raventos said he'll talk on the importance of children having an opportunity to learn and discover at an early age. Novell's Bradford will urge businesses to join the project.

Novell considers its sponsorship of the project an educational partnership with the Utah County children, said Dennis Morganson, company spokesman.