Open Voices Blog

Archives for posts tagged as "environmental education"

Recommended Reading: A New Class of Earth Explorers

12/03/13 | View Comments

Though there are many technological temptations keeping kids indoors, more outdoor education programs are emerging across the country to help children learn about their natural surroundings. The Earth Explorers program based out of 10 different community centers around the city of Rochester, NY is one such program that runs weekly activities for children year round that encourage exploring the outdoors.

According to the city of Rochester’s website, “The Earth Explorers program encourages youth to find nature in their own backyard. Some days, that means working in a garden at the center. Other days, we’re playing a game of Frisbee in snowshoes. A garden or open field serves as a wonderful outdoor classroom, where youth learn while staying engaged and active.”

These types of programs help expose children to hands on application of the natural sciences, as they can often be found planting new vegetables or discovering something new in the dirt. By developing an interest in nature at an early age, these young Earth Explorers can hope to maintain a connection with the natural world as they grow.

Learn more about the Earth Explorers program here.

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Recommended Reading: Bringing Education and Nature Together

10/29/13 | View Comments

For many students today the school day consists of sitting indoors at a desk, staring at photocopied worksheets and the blackboard. But for the students at CA Frost Environmental Sciences Academy in Grand Rapids, MI, education isn’t confined to inside.

The school sits right next to a nature preserve, so teachers can help bring more hands on experiences with nature to their students. When studying ponds, the students were actually able to get into the pond to measure the temperature and learn how that impacted the ecosystem. In learning about soil they can go outside and feel the difference between sand or clay based samples.

This unique school, with its nature based curriculum, is open to any student in Grand Rapids, allowing equal access to more nature during the school day. With many schools canceling outdoor recess or physical education, there has been a noticeable lack of engagement between children and the natural world. However, as more schools begin to open up their doors to what’s going on outside, children can also begin to develop a life-long appreciation for nature.

Learn more about nature based education in Grand Rapids here.

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Recommended Reading: The Natural Way to Learn and Play

10/09/13 | View Comments

What preschool-aged child wouldn’t love to spend their school day climbing trees and playing in the dirt? Nature-based education allows for curriculum that supports those activities as well as positive emotional and cognitive development, reigniting the spark between youth and the natural world. And recently, there’s more research that suggests that children benefit both physically and mentally from playing in the outdoors and getting closer to nature, inspiring new-found interest in nature preschools like Drumlin Farm Community Preschool in Massachusetts.

Nature-based education has been fairly popular in Northern Europe for decades, but is picking up steam in the United States, especially with the rise in what journalist Richard Louv calls “nature-deficit disorder,” where lack of natural and outdoor play and exploration carries detrimental effects. The programs at many nature-based schools follow the interests of the students and allow for use of their imaginations to help develop problem-solving skills.

There are no concrete limits to learning, exploring and playing in nature, allowing children to engage in such a wide variety of activities, the positive effects of exposure to nature on their development has been supported over and over again.

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    We are a private nonprofit that supports, informs, and inspires the creation of publicly accessible urban green spaces. We believe that every city resident needs nearby green space to provide opportunities for mindfulness, respite, and renewal. The Foundation has issued its final grants to build five Open Spaces Sacred Places and research the impacts on a variety of users with the hope that the powerful connection between nature, spirit and human wellbeing will be scientifically proven.

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