Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Out-of-School In the Outdoors

After a wet and snowy winter, the world is beginning to bloom again (at least in some parts of the country). All of the sprouting trees and flowers inspired me to look in the Directory to see what kinds of opportunities for afterschool science there are in botanical gardens and outdoor schools. 

At the Garden Apprentice Program (GAP) at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, high schoolers have the opportunity to learn about different aspects of horticulture and then participate in an urban agriculture project with their peers. The program is structured so that outstanding participants have the potential to work their way up and eventually become paid Senior Apprentices. This innovative program has been around since 2004 and requires a ten-month commitment with extensive training. See the GAP website for more details as well as some great pictures!

In Mississippi, the Plymouth Bluff Center offers environmental programs in an unaltered outdoor setting that includes a  river, a pond, woodlands, a cypress slough, nature trails, an outdoor teaching facility, and outdoor laboratories. The Bluff is the site of an ancient Cretaceous sea and contains fossil sites used for paleontology and geology labs. Nature trails and abundant wildlife present opportunities for unstructured learning time. There is also an outdoor Math Lab and Environmental Discovery Lab perfect for field trip visits from afterschool programs as well as classrooms! 

And on the west coast, 5th grade students in rural Lassen County in northern California can explore their surrounding environment at 5th Grade Day in the Forest. Hosted by the California Regional Environmental Education Community (CREEC), the event encourages participants to explore a variety of science concepts that correlate to California's science standards. 

Let us know in the comments what you're doing to celebrate science in the outdoors! 

P.S. Read about member activities, upcoming conferences, the Afterschool for All Challenge, and more in the Coalition's March newsletter!

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