Nature, we vacation near it, we immerse ourselves in it, we need it for survival. A student’s natural curiosity about nature and the world around them can drive science learning and outcomes. Investigating natural phenomena within your state and close to your school creates authentic and relevant opportunities for students to research their local ecosystems. Experiences with nature not only promotes learning, but can help close the achievement gap (Liberman, 1998. Closing the Achievement Gap.) Citing studies, we will discuss how spending time in nature is healthy for students, faculty, and staff. Nature can lower blood pressure, calm anxiety, and improve mood. Using Missouri Department of Conservation’s Discover Nature Schools Curriculum as an example, we will discuss how taking learning outside can meet NGSS Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics and the Earth and Human Activity Strands. We will discuss ways to find and/or create nature experience near you.
Nature is everywhere, accessible to everyone; from studying a crack in the sidewalk, where ants and other insects travel, to studying ponds, prairies, and forests. I can find and create nature study opportunities at my school, whether it is urban, suburban, or rural.
Kathi Moore (Conservation Educator: HANNIBAL, MO), Sherri Russell (State Wildlife Veterinarian: Jefferson City, MO)