Kids and parents at an EE Week put on by the National Aquarium

Take STEM Education Outside During Environmental Education Week

If you gave students the choice of completing a worksheet or going outside, you already know the winner—nature! Besides being more fun for kids, going outside boosts cognitive function says the American Psychological Association.

There’s even been a push to green-up schoolyards, replacing concrete slabs with more natural schoolyards, include outdoor classrooms, native gardens, storm water capture, traditional play equipment, vegetable gardens, trails, trees, and more, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

A great way to engage young learners in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) lessons is to use the outdoors as a hands-on classroom. Studies such as this 2015 research brief continue to show how “outdoor school helps kids stay more engaged in the classroom by making schoolwork more relevant and fun, through hands-on activities that show children how their lessons in school apply to the world around them.” Whether they’re digging in the dirt or splashing in a stream, many kids enjoy a fun, interactive activity to better understand the world around them.

Enter, the Greening STEM educator toolkit. Recently updated and expanded for Environmental Education Week 2019, the toolkit includes teaching resources, case studies, and a community of practice to support the Greening STEM approach. An interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to teaching STEM subjects, Greening STEM uses the natural environment and real-world challenges to engage learners and deliver high-quality STEM education. The Greening STEM toolkit aims to:

  1. Give educators a strong case by explaining the reasons this approach is effective.
  2. Show educators the way to use this approach by describing the ways to organize a lesson, project, or expedition.
  3. Provide the tools to put the approach into action by offering links to suggested activities, lessons, and curriculum that can be used immediately.

The Greening STEM toolkit will be launched during NEEF’s Environmental Education Week, happening from April 22-26, 2019. Sign up to stay updated on EE Week!

Lisa Beach is a freelance journalist and copywriter. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Eating Well, USA Today Go Escape Florida & Caribbean, Good Housekeeping, Parents, and dozens more. Check out her writer’s website at