Why should you take your family outside today?
In short, because there’s so much to learn and understand about our natural world. Kids today spend the bulk of their day in classrooms surrounded by books. Science, however, is a subject best learned in the outdoor laboratory where they can touch, smell, and even break things. The UK grasped this already in 2004, as they noted in a report titled “A review of Research on Outdoor Learning”:
There is growing concern that opportunities for outdoor learning by school students in England have decreased substantially in recent years. In response to this, and recent Government calls for ‘schools to make better use of the outdoor classroom as a context for teaching and learning,’the Field Studies Council (FSC) and several partner organisations commissioned the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) to undertake a review of research on outdoor learning.
The English Outdoor Council goes even further to support the need for outdoor science education in a literature review on the topic: What Does Research Say?
If that’s not convincing enough, listen to foremost astrophysicist, Neil Degrasse Tyson emphasize that investing in science is critical to our society, and letting kids experiment is an important part of that process:
So, it’s clear the experts understand the need for outdoor science education, but what does that mean for our families? It means that we have plenty of opportunities to explore, learn, and understand science right in our own backyards.
Here are some of those opportunities:
- Check out Planet Science’s Outdoor Experiments
- Teach your family to be inquisitive by asking “Why” and “How come?” often
- Try out some Science Activities courtesy of the National Wildlife Federation
- Visit a planetarium, aquarium, zoo, natural history museum, or science center
- Participate in The Great Bug Hunt
- Buy your kids a telescope or microscope.
- Have a voice with NWF’s Young Reporters for the Environment
- Explore some ScienceWorx Lesson Plans (most are easily adapted to the backyard)
Most importantly, take time to reflect on your outdoor learning. Take a page out of the experiential education playbook by asking three reflection questions: What? Now what? So what? Reflection will lead to understanding–and perhaps to more exploring!