Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Innovative Approaches to Environmental Education: Taking School Outside

Schools are adopting increasingly innovative approaches to education that help to show children the value of the environment. Some schools are teaching children by bringing them out into nature and enabling them to do things like canoe down a river, hold a bird of prey, and rappel down a cliff wall. These types of activities are of immense value and offer far more than can be achieved in a classroom setting alone.

This is the unique pedagogical approach of WOLF (Wonders of the Ozarks Learning Facility) program. This novel education is the byproduct of a public-private partnership between the Springfield, Missouri public school system, Bass Pro Shops, and the Wonders of Wildlife Museum.

The WOLF program is being offered to 46 fifth-graders in the 2013 - 2014 school year. The lucky students who get to participate in this free program were chosen through a lottery system. Students not only participate in fun outdoor activities they also learn about conserving local ecosystems in the classroom, and then take what they have learned into natural splendor of the Ozark region.

WOLF goes beyond the traditional classroom setting offering students insights into a variety of ecosystems including, rivers, wetlands, forests, glades, caves, and prairies.

Results show that students in the program not only perform well academically they also develop a passion for learning. The impacts extend beyond academics and include intangibles such as improved self-confidence, teamwork, and an increased understanding of environmental issues.

This hands-on, place-based education is an ideal way to reach a generation of youth that has become increasingly disconnected from the natural world.

For more information about this program click here.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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