The Value of the Outdoors and How to Get Our Students Out More

Submitted by Erin Harris on Thu, 2017-07-13 00:00

In Idaho we are fortunate to have a general appreciation for the outdoors and that has proven to be an important asset to living and teaching here.  Unfortunately, in today's society of instant gratification and use of technology, more and more often, students are disconnected from their environment.  We need to get them outdoors if the goal is to foster stewardship.  Our valley has many opportunities that we can bring students to experience, however, my eyes are now open to the opportunities we can bring to them.  

Today at Eagle Island State Park, we were introduced to research that indicates that simply being in nature reduces your body's stress response and levels of cortisol lower after mere minutes of exposure.  What does that mean to me?.... Get my students outside!  It doesn't have to be ellaborate, it just needs to be deliberate.  I plan to use the concept of observation as my lens to introduce students to an outside classroom and set the appropriate norms. From there, options are endless...bird watching, notebook sketches, data collection, novelty in presentation location, species identification, use of apps, citizen science and the ultimate, cultivating a school garden!

If you are also interested in getting your students outside, please respond with your experiences and/or ideas.