Bringing the Outdoors into Education

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Partnering to enhance the school experience for kids across the Bay Area.

 

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Communities and public schools in California are nearing the end of their five-year planning process (2013 – 2018) to integrate and implement the state’s Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The new standards bring lesson plans from classroom-based applications to immersive and interactive experiences that let students explore and learn by doing.

 

While the updates are almost complete, California teachers need more help. Specifically, they need more partners to help provide materials and places where students can get those experiences.

 

One important partner so far has been the John Muir Land Trust (JMLT). JMLT provides the setting for learning at its national historic site, Mt. Wanda, as well as its newest property, West Hills Farm. And with help from a $200,000 gift from Andeavor, it partnered with Berkeley-based Vizzitto to develop mobile technology that brings classroom lessons to life in the outdoors.

 

 

The partnership created the POINTing to Success program, which uses GPS to provide engaging content and information at specific points of interest along a trail route that students follow. There are multiple narratives along the trails that are grade-specific for middle and high schoolers.  

 

The result has been that students can understand how what they’re learning has real-life implications and uses. And often, the program inspires students to continue pursuing STEAM -- science, technology, engineering, arts and math -- courses and careers.