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Research in Science Education

Teach STEM Outside!

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Scott Donnelly Scott Donnelly 570 Points

From today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/Op-Ed/2015/08/23/Send-children-outside-Nature-is-the-best-training-ground-for-STEM-careers/stories/201506170016

Madison Pottebaum Madison Pottebaum 1750 Points

This is a great idea! I liked how the article discusses the benefit of going outside. Some students don't learn as well in a 'normal' classroom setting, and it can be nice for a whole class to have a change in scenary! This can give students an opportunity to spend more time outside (especially when it's nice out) and can help students who can be easily distracted get some extra movement in their day!


Jennifer Toy Jennifer Toy 725 Points

I really like this activity too! I too feel that sometimes students just need a change of scenery or maybe it helps to get up and get their blood flowing. I had a friend recently suggest going on a "nature walk" where students can learn the difference between qualitative and quatitative data (I would do this at the beginning of the year). They can observe different things by describing their shape, color, texture, smell (qualitative), and then describe the number of them (quantitative). Also, I heard of another cool activity if and when you teach ecosystems where students could walk around outside and put together a energy web with what they observe outside. 

Samantha Forero Samantha Forero 1075 Points

I really enjoyed this article! I completely agree that the foundation for creative and innovative thinking is outside! I will definitely take every opportunity possible to take my students outside and learn with hands on activities. It is true that when students are engaged, they are more inclined to ask deeper questions and are able to remember information better. 

Marlen King Marlen King 675 Points

I love this idea! Students should be given the opportunities to explore around them, this could enable students to fully engage in memorable experiences for learning science. 

Jessica Bonnar Jessica Bonnar 60 Points

Incredibly important! One of the biggest benefits of outdoor STEM education that this article briefly touches on is the ability of outdoor education to benefit students who don't learn well in traditional classroom settings. Especially for students who tend to be distracted/restless/listless in a traditional classroom environment (such as I was in elementary school), outdoor education provides an opportunity for movement, kinesthetic learning, and more focused investment of energy! One of the biggest difficulties with outdoor education, however, is accessibility. How can we get our students (especially inner-city students) to experience outdoor education in lesser-funded districts? A one-week trip is great, but this is something that ideally could be incorporated on a regular basis. Any thoughts?

Pamela Dupre Pamela Dupre 92364 Points

Do you have any outdoor space at all? If so you could try container gardening, set up a weather station, and conduct some shadow experiments. I do agree being outside is beneficial to students.

Flavio Mendez Flavio Mendez 48701 Points

Hi Jessica,

Celebrate STEM Outside by observing the solar eclipse on August 21 (total solar eclipse in some parts of the country). See the collection below with information and ideas for activities.

Solar Eclipse of 2017 Collection:


Jordan Hammerand Jordan Hammerand 3340 Points

Starting a garden and observing the solar eclipse are some great ways to get students engaged in science outdoors. I sympathize with teachers and students whose schools have a limited amount of outdoor space. This calls for extra creativity on our part to diversify students' experience with science. Here is a link with many ideas for outdoor STEM activities... https://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/outdoor-stem-activities-science-kids/

Some ideas include making sun prints, building a solar oven or heater, or creating your own balance with objects from nature. Ideas for designing and building pulleys, catapults, sundials, and waters clocks are included, as well as simple experiments with rocks and bugs. STEM is so broad and encompasses many topics that can be explored in real life, outdoor experiences!

Harley Kitching Harley Kitching 597 Points

Hi Jordan! Thank you for posting that link with all of those great activities. I will soon have my own classroom and having some activities for students to get up and move around outside and experience science has been one of my goals for my classroom. I will be using some of these activities to get my students more engaged in science and show them that science is all around them all the time.

Elizabeth Ricke Elizabeth Ricke 333 Points

Thank you Jordan for sharing this link! As a pre-service teacher I found the link very beneficial and interesting as I would love to incorporate many of these ideas into my future teaching. There are many great ways to incorporate STEAM into the classroom in general, but this link provided great ideas and fun projects for students. I love the idea of starting a classroom garden and having students learn how to maintain and take care of the garden. The link shared many great ideas that I would love to incorporate into my future classroom! Thanks again!

Harley Kitching Harley Kitching 597 Points

I have worked in STEM schools before in my student teaching placements, and one that really impressed me was one that had a partner farm that the students got to go to on field trips and interact with the animals and crops. The farm set aside a section that was not used frequently for the students to complete projects. They would brainstorm issues that the farm or the school was having, and then they would come up with solutions to help using the land they were provided. It was a really cool year long project for the students. You could tell they all really enjoyed their time there as well, and they took a lot out of the experience. I do like all the ideas presented in the links throughout the feed that will help me as a teacher get my students outside if there are limited opportunities for STEM growth in the school.

Chad James Capote Chad James Capote 180 Points

Thanks for sharing the article. I've always felt the need and follow methods to involve nature in science learning. Natural sciences do not operate in vacuum. It is important to establish or re-establish communication between the natural environment and learning. 

Taylor Simmons Taylor Simmons 1125 Points

Thank you so much for sharing this information! I would be a great idea to have class outside and get to see STEM from a hands-on experience! 

Paul McPherson Paul McPherson 60 Points

That's a pretty great idea, thanks! I hope I'll be able to teach in normal conditions again this September, and I'll try to apply this advice.


Taking students outside is so very important! I believe that the 5E Instructional Model can help to offer a guideline for a quality outdoor lesson. The Explore portion is good for taking the students outside, using Interactive Science Notebooks to guide their thinking and modeling, and letting them use all of their senses. In using the outdoors for explore, students can observe and model and sketch in their science journals, and they can take charge of their own investigations. Teachers can ask probing questions, along with guiding students along the way. This is a good resource to explore their school ecosystems, organisms within the ecosystems, and relationships and interconnectedness within the ecosystem. Getting outdoors can also provide quality authentic experiences, along with beginning conversations about how students can help their neighborhoods, communities, and protect the environment. 

Mary Hess Mary Hess 5455 Points

Given the choice, I'd rather break out of the four walls of my classroom and learn outdoors. Check out the selected articles from NSTA below. So many benefits and opportunities to learn.


Outdoor Integration (Journal Article)

The Dirt on Outdoor Classrooms (Journal Article)

Outdoor Benefits (External Website)

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