- Ninth-graders in Maine’s MSAD 44 district take part each year in an outside educational program called the Telstar Freshman Academy, which melds outdoor projects with community-building activities, according to The Hechinger Report.
- A collaboration with the University of Maine 4-H Camp and Learning Center at Bryant Park, the program launched in 2014. Besides taking part in physical activities, including rock climbing, children also develop peer-mentoring skills.
- Over the past several years, the district said students have gained more self-confidence and teachers report that standardized test scores have grown, according to the article.
Bringing learning outside the classroom can spark students' interest in science-related lessons. These activities can take many forms, including composting projects, school gardens and even beekeeping endeavors.
When students work together on a project or a service-learning effort, like the one mentioned in the article, they are also developing social-emotional skills including team work, collaboration and communication. That’s an outcome the School District of Philadelphia has seen, after partnering with Outward Bound to develop activities for its 9th-grade curriculum.
While not every school has a convenient outdoor space or is able to link into a district-wide program, such as in Philadelphia, there are organizations that work with schools, like the 4-H, to expand students' exposure to nature and build team-working skills.
One example is Wilderness Inquiry, which works with elementary, middle and high school students across the country, sending them on canoe rides to learn about waterways. And the Appalachian Mountain Club partners with K-12 schools to help students develop educational and social skills. School and curriculum leaders can apply for grants or reach out to parents and community members to explore local opportunities for combining instruction with outdoor exploration.