Outdoor Classroom I

 

Benefits of having an outdoor classroom:

 

Outdoor classrooms expose students through direct experiences to natural areas and demonstration models such as weather stations, water flow systems and renewable energy installations. They make can students active and provide hands-on learning in a real world setting. Using nature’s classrooms many students are more likely to embrace the learning process, and through problem solving with real purpose students experience an increased interest in the learning outcomes.

When outdoors, students are using all their senses, thus creating a strong memory of the activities that are long lasting. Unlike past generations, young people today spend much less time outdoors. Usually kids are indoors, watching TV, playing video games, or being a couch potato, and parents are okay with that because they know where their kids are and know that nothing will happen to them there. This is a false sense of security because this sedentary life style and lack of connection with the natural world have major consequences.

In the book Last Child in the Woods, author Richard Louv explores some of these consequences. "Two thirds of American children can't pass a basic physical: 40 percent of boys and 70 percent of girls ages six to seventeen can't manage more than one pull-up; and 40 percent show early signs of heart and circulation problems, according to a recent report by the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Spending significant time outdoors playing, climbing, running, and exploring are critical for physical and cognitive development of children, and it is a practice that needs to be restored.

An outdoor classroom emphasizes the interconnectedness of all things. It helps students realize that complex natural and societal systems often require holistic rather than linear solutions. Clever teachers can use the outdoors to combine math lessons, history, art, and writing. This setting makes it easier for clever teacher to access the different strengths of particular students who sometimes in a traditional classroom setting don’t feel well connected. Being outdoors sometimes helps break down barriers and causes people to be more fully present. This presence can result in more effective use of instructional time despite the few minutes of time “lost” in bringing a class out to this location.

Students in the SHS NEED Project thank the teachers that make use of this space ad save electricity by turning off their classroom lights.

Special thanks to Eagle Scout Nick Youngdahl and his associates for their work on this site. Outdoor Classroom II (located on the southern part of our trail loop) will be constructed by Eagle Scout-Candidate John Pavao and his associates in the coming months.