About Teaching Science Outdoors

Session 2 Group Picture 2016Program Description:

This professional development program (PD) is offered by the CREATE for STEM Institute and the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station of Michigan State University to enrich elementary teachers' experiences in science teaching. The Program intends to encourage the participants to integrate outdoor inquiry as part of their everyday practice.

The PD will use the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as its approach to curriculum development. This approach blends disciplinary core ideas, crosscutting concepts, and scientific and engineering practices into performance expectations. Both inquiry-based learning and outdoor education are in line with the NGSS, the National Research Council Framework for K12 Science Education, and other key documents published in science education. 

Commonly, teachers have limited time to incorporate outdoor teaching in their everyday practice and are faced with many challenges. We hope that despite these challenges, the hands-on, minds-on, and hearts-on experience of meaningful learning in the outdoors during this PD will help participating teachers feel more confident integrating scientific practices with teaching science content. Teachers will build their skills in using the outdoors to provide context and find opportunities to incorporate science practices in instruction. 

Through this program, teachers will participate in a week long summer workshop at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station (KBS). Each participant will participate in multiple field investigations and practice data collection and analysis techniques that can be incorporated into existing curriculum. Technology will be used in the form of an interactive website and iPads with a variety of freely available apps. 

Teachers will then be supported in carrying out an entire cycle of curriculum development, enactment, and assessment to enhance your reflective practice including collaborative action research on various aspects of your projects (and by that will be empowered to use the outdoors as a teaching lab; and will develop reflective practice skills). 

We will collaborate in various ways, face-to-face and virtually, to produce a project that could later be modified to meet individual teacher's needs. Some of the activities will be done online prior to the PD, at home. Some will be done online during the PD, and others will be done by field investigation that uses technology too. 

  • Experience outdoor inquiry learning
  • Use technology throughout the inquire process
  • Experience team collaborative learning
  • Develop school-based learning units in line with NGSS
Working on the Website

Throughout the program, you will be provided with instructions on website work assignments to be completed individually or collaboratively. For help navigating the website, look at the "How to Navigate the Site" under the "Resource/Tools" page.

Active Collaborative Learning

Throughout the PD, participants will be fully engaged in working as a group and in teams of 2-3 (instructions to follow). 


Very often, you will work on shared documents that everyone can edit. In the case of individual work, you are requested not to edit/delete others' work. In collaborative work, please edit only your own team's work and refrain from deleting/editing other teams' work.