Giving Compass’ Take:
• Dr. Al Mijares shares how Inside the Outdoors is using outdoor education to inspire environmental STEM learning in Orange and Los Angeles counties.
• How can funders expand access to outdoor education, particularly for disadvantaged urban students?
In 2004, Rhonda L. Clements, professor of education at Manhattanville College in New York, conducted a survey of 830 mothers nationwide. While 71% reported playing outdoors as children, only 26% of mothers said their kids did the same on a daily basis. Interestingly enough, the results showed little difference between rural and urban settings. With supercharged academic standards and a greater focus on STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math), some educators may choose to ignore these trends. But we do so at a tremendous cost given the extensive evidence that nature, in addition to being intertwined with a number of scientific fields, not only sharpens minds but also amplifies learning in other subjects.
Indeed, a recent study of children ages 9 and 10 revealed that hands-on lessons in nature produce students who are more engaged in their other academic studies. Moreover, a duo from UC Berkeley points to more than 100 studies that demonstrate how exposure to nature can have positive impacts on thought processes, as well as our physical and mental health.
Since 1974, Inside the Outdoors has been nurturing student knowledge and stewardship of the natural environment with highly-qualified staff and 15 field trip locations throughout Orange and Los Angeles counties. Lessons are aligned with the state’s instructional standards, and for classes that can’t venture out, the program dispatches Traveling Scientists to schools—often accompanied by wildlife. Inside the Outdoors logs more than 150,000 hours of environmental STEM learning each year and has served over 3.5 million students to-date—many of whom might not otherwise have these experiences.
Read the full article about outdoor education by Dr. Al Mijares at Children & Nature Network.
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