Summit Environmental School – Outdoor Classroom and Playscape
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Students in schools with outdoor classrooms and natural playscapes are often calmer and demonstrate an increased ability to focus when learning in the natural environment. Educators have reported that spending time outdoors improves behaviors and increases quality interactions amongst students who, in turn, have fewer disciplinary issues. In addition, learning outdoors fosters a vital spirit of creativity and curiosity in a collaborative environment. Students will explore, investigate, problem-solve, and observe biodiversity in a natural playscape, promoting STEM literacy and concept development. Summit students playing in formal and informal ways also will nurture STEM learning. Finally, teachers’ science lessons will study the connections between the students and their environment to elevate the effectiveness of STEM learning. As part of this project, Summit Elementary will be able to:
► Provide children access to a sustainable outdoor classroom and playscape that can be used year-round that includes a 1 0′ climbing and sliding hill that will transform into a sledding hill in the winter, leading to increased physical activity during all seasons
► Provide a safe outdoor venue that encourages active play and imagination (with no screens involved) directly to 250 Summit Environmental School students as well as all families in the surrounding neighborhoods and beyond
► Provide age-appropriate, natural play structures, encouraging visitation even during non-school hours
► Support local businesses with locally sourced plants, stone, wood, and mulch
► Plant hundreds of native plants that not only provide beauty but are nectar sources for pollinators, provide winter forage (seeds) for birds and other creatures, and support thousands of native and beneficial insect populations
► Contribute to a playground with natural features with little to no plastic elements, a fossil fuel derived product that is causing major global health and environmental issues
► Build a sense of ownership for this space within the community by supporting volunteer days, which will also reduce project cost