Studies show that environmental education improves student achievement in core subject areas and also makes students more interested in learning overall. What’s more, getting kids outside and active promotes a healthy lifestyle that is essential to fighting obesity and reducing symptoms associated with attention deficit disorder, depression, and stress.
When the world becomes your classroom, the possibilities are endless. Project Learning Tree offers multi-disciplinary schools and resources for educators who want their students to learn about the natural world…by being there.
Take Nick Scheman's Environmental Sciences classes at Chestatee High School in Georgia for example. When Georgia was hit with a delibitating drought a few years back, students started asking Scheman questions about how Lake Lanier, the resevoir for a booming Atlanta metropolitan area, would be affected. Scheman decided that armed with a few tools and time spent monitoring a stream on school property, his students could figure out some of the answers to their own questions.
After monitoring a stream on school property, the students wanted to step up their efforts to learn about the watershed and sharing what they learned by building an outdoor classroom.
Designing and constructing the classroom is a great focal point for the school and the community. The environmental science and construction classes worked together to build the structure, almost complete except for seating and a podium. Funding came from a Project Learning Tree’s GreenWorks! grant, a grant from Lowe’s, and some money from the school administration for native landscaping.
Now students are building trails to connect the space to the high school and a nearby middle school. Next up: planting native vegetation and nurturing seeds from some of Gainesville’s historic dogwoods, maples, and other trees. High school students will also use PLT and Project Wild to develop activities for younger kids.