The interdependency of environmental resources, while not a new concept, is often difficult to comprehend, much less to teach. Educators can easily feel overwhelmed by the endless possibilities when studying the environment, but in many instances, the tangible facts commonly give way to pure fascination for and appreciation of those elements which make up our environment. It is this combination of fact and fascination that lay the very foundation for exploration--the essence of environmental intrigue--and to possible understanding.
Land Labs are designed to provide this combination of fact and fascination. Through various sites specifically developed to encourage discussions and fact findings, students explore and hypothesize what "they think is" and discover what "actually is." After which, the next step is to ask "Why?". Land labs are designed to help lay the foundation to this discovery.
One Word of Caution
Although land labs provide unique opportunities to explore and learn, they do present a challenge to school staff who must develop new curriculum and maintain the site. This responsibility usually falls to one teacher who is overly excited about the possibilities land labs can provided. The problem with this is, "What happens to the lab if the teacher retires or is transferred?" The Forest Park Environmental Program has built two (2) land labs for two different schools and both experienced the same problem. The teachers from both schools who helped put the labs together were transferred. The result...........both land labs went unused and basically became a deserted, overgrown site.
- Contact the school district's Director of Curriculum to get a commitment for the lab.
- Meet with school principals to see which schools have an interest in developing land labs.
- get a commitment from the principal
- work with the principal to establish a team of teachers who would be responsible for curriculum development and its maintenance
- commit to recruiting other teachers to replace those who are reassigned or retire
- assist, if possible, with funding and materials for the lab
Additional Land Lab Information
- The Case for Wild School Sites - Ohio Division of Wildlife
- Education Resources Information Center (ERIC)
- Web Resources on Outdoor Classrooms and Wildlife Gardens
Winton Woods Elementary School Land Lab