Studying science is studying nature. Science tries to understand how natural processes occur, reproduce them in the laboratory, and find ways to put them to the service of humanity. Hence, contact with nature is essential for an effective science education. Through exploring nature, students understand the importance of studying natural processes. They understand why science matters.
The outdoors are living laboratories, where students can observe, investigate, and analyze natural processes. Through engaging in activities in nature, students can comprehend the complexity of natural processes.
Contact with nature has various benefits for students, research shows. Children are more motivated to learn when the content is connected to nature. They are better able to retain knowledge and think more creatively when learning outdoors. This kind of learning also improves students’ academic achievement, as well as their behavior and social development. Students that engage in outdoors learning improve their ability to communicate with their peers and gain cooperative skills.
There are many ways to explore nature with your class. Take students on walks outdoors, explore the school surroundings, show them the local biodiversity and geodiversity. Does your school have an outdoor space? Use it to plant a school garden, that is a really good tool for teaching science. Gardens are functional ecosystems where you can see and experience hands-on biological, chemical, and geological processes, and this makes them very rich places for science investigations.
Moreover, outdoors activities in the school garden or in a close park have little to no costs to the schools, as opposed to visits to science museums or botanical gardens that are expensive and that, due to less time dedicated to science in schools across the world, increasing worries of parents regarding child safety, and lack of funding, are becoming more and more difficult to arrange.
You can arrange as many field trips to the school garden as you want in a school year. It implicates nothing more than tell you students to grab a notebook and a pencil and head to the garden!
Creative Commons Love: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on Flickr.com
Written by Catarina Loureiro