A Game Changer in Science and Environmental Education

What are the best practices in outdoor and nature education? How can I construct the best environmental and outdoor experiences for my students or children? After years of research and field testing and revision, the Lawrence Hall of Science BEETLES (Better Environmental Education, Teaching, Learning & Expertise Sharing) program has released a rich set of teaching resources for field instructors, leaders, and classroom teachers. What I love about this approach is that it gives students the tools to explore, observe, question, and discover in nature on their own terms and not rely on didactic, teacher driven lessons, or simulation games. This is where we should be moving in nature education. These are the best environmental education resources I have seen in over thirty years of teaching in nature. It is a must for every outdoor educator or home school facilitator. And it’s free.

Being involved as an advisor to the BEETLES had dramatically changed the way I think about and facilitate outdoor education experiences. On the most superficial level you will find some great activities to augment your nature study program. But do not stop there. The BEETLES program helps us rethink our program priorities, and gives a framework for the flow of learning activities that is functional, effective, and versatile. There are resources for individual field instructors, program leaders and developers (to help you create staff workshops), and classroom teachers. The BEETLES website provides downloadable resources, online documentation, videos of the activities in the field with real students, and much more.

Just a few samples to wet your appetite:  Notice, I Wonder, It Reminds Me Of: Student activity pdfDiscussion Leading Tips for Field Instructors: It’s a really useful document for those interested in leading student discussions , for program leaders/professional learning sessions- Making Observations: Good example of one of the professional learning write-ups.

Visit the site, share it with other teachers, parents, and outdoor leaders.

6 thoughts on “A Game Changer in Science and Environmental Education

  1. 30 years ago I was an elementary school teacher with a BSc in biology. I remember going to new science curriculum staff meetings and asking why we couldn’t develop resources just like this to be shared. So many teachers do not have a science background and are not comfortable with teaching the subject in spite of being assigned to do that very thing.
    I remember that the presenter looked at me like I had three heads! This type of program is so exciting and so hands on and so overdue. I can’t say enough. It makes me wish I could grab the materials and go back in time to that meeting and say ‘Here’s what I mean!’ Wow. Maybe, now in retirement, I can approach a provincial park (Canada) or outdoor club and offer to introduce and be a part of this incredible tool for educators. It makes me want to teach again.

  2. Nanci says:

    Wow. This looks great. I love your quote on the website:
    “The term Kung Fu originally meant developing a skill through diligent hard work to become a master. Let’s become Kung Fu Educators!”


  3. Cathy Austin says:

    What a wonderful opportunity for kids to spend time outside and learn so much. Oh, to be a child again! I spent my days at age 6 to 7 yrs. in the south GA woods and loved every minute. It would have been nice to have adults like these teaching me about what I explored. I was the inquisitor. It led me to explore every country I visited as an older child and it has continued through my life. It must be wonderful to live in your area and experience BEETLES and other educational opportunities.

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