Research has shown positive benefits from outdoor learning in science education. These experiences enhance learning for students from all backgrounds, support increased scientific content knowledge, and develop environmentally conscious students. Science is the world around us and having our students explore this world is essential to understand it.
What can outdoor learning look like in a school setting? It could be taking your classroom outside for the day, it could be integrating the natural environment into your curricula and lessons, and it could even be taking your students on a school trip. Schools with easier access to natural environments in a more rural setting can use ponds, creeks, fields, forests, and gardens to support their lessons. Schools with less access to natural environments in an urban setting can set up bird feeders and create school gardens. Bringing students into the outdoors to learn, observe, and report is much more authentic than giving them a rock or leaf from a bucket that the teacher collected.
It may be challenging to create the proper lesson to support your standards, so finding a kit that encourages outdoor learning and standards is the next best thing. Here are some great options to support outdoor learning:
Neo/SCI Exploring the Weather Lab Investigation: Neo/SCI Exploring the Weather Lab Investigation allows students to examine the barometric pressure and understand the fundamental concepts of behind the weather forecasts. They can also examine relative humidity, measure precipitation, wind speed & direction. Enough materials are provided for 40 students working in 10 groups of 4.
Innovating Science Seed Germination and Plant Structure Kit: This kit is designed for young elementary students to help them examine and understand the needs of plants for growth and survival. This kit contains materials for 15 groups of two to dissect and germinate seeds and compare their plant’s growth to other types of plants grown in the classroom.
Science First Fieldmaster Orienteering Kit: In this Fieldmaster Orienteering kit, we have everything you need to get started with map and compass work. Several teacher guides will help you direct your students in class and out. This kit includes: student compasses, teacher demonstration compass, metal student safety whistles, economy stopwatch, control markers, control cards, alphabet stamp set, “Orienteering and Map Games for Teachers” by M. Garrett, USGS Fact Sheets “Topographic Map Symbols” and “Finding Your Way with Map and Compass”.
Outdoor learning offers numerous benefits for students and teachers alike. With a solid plan and effective supporting materials, science education can be seamlessly incorporated with outdoor activities. Whether in a rural or an urban setting, engaging students in inquiry-based exploration of the natural environment can create hands-on learning opportunities.
For 3½ years Naomi taught middle and high school content, plus an additional year teaching elementary content. She has taught physical education, multiple levels of math, and science, and has also worked in Product Development and Curriculum writing for four years. Naomi now holds an Oregon teaching license for pre-K through grade 12 health & physical education, plus a Saskatchewan Profession “A” Teaching License. She has presented at international, national, state, and local conferences.
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