Outdoor education has been a rising trend after the pandemic. This approach includes a wide range of areas: science and geography fieldwork, learning through outdoor play, history and citizenship through visits to museums heritage sites, group activities that may include adventurous activities, the use of the environment as a tool to enrich curriculum across subject areas etc. (House of Commons, 2005).
We try to transform our school “Binali Yıldırım Primary School” to an outdoor learning centre. As the first step we have applied “Eatable School Garden Project” which consists elements of STEM. Nature educators Fatma Nuray HİNCAL and Mine ÖZCAN have guided us during the project.
In the first week of the project, we conducted an experiment to analyze soil of the planting area after meeting and warming up games. According to soil analyse we understood that the soil mostly consists of clay that is not a convenient environment to grow plants in. So we decided to add different types of soil to our field.
In the following weeks we vented the soil, cleared of the useless materials to use for compost. We learned difference between seeding and planting. Then we started to seed (lettuce, parsley, dill, mustard grass, cabbage etc.)
During the activities students have observed the nature and investigated different animals. Some of them were familiar, some of them were not. For instance, pine purse caterpillars traveling in convoys were unfamilier for the students. They searched about them and learned about their life circle and harmful effects on the other living beings. We argued on a plan to prevent the harm. We mentioned the issue with the school principle and she communicated with local authorities. That was a great oppurtunity to experience problem solving.
In the following weeks we planted basil, mint, thyme seddlings. By means of planting students learned about parts of the plant and their functions. We started to plant potatoes and carrots which gave chance to learn repository root and stem.
Students have realized that irrigation is an important part of farming and learned to observe the humidity and determined irrigation frequency. They obtained information about photosynthesis.
Traditional learning environments are often limited in terms of efficiently conducted STEM activities. So, outdoor school activities are better alternatives to provide flexible learning environments for interdisciplinary STEM activities (Baran et al., 2019).
With the help of this experience we have accomplished a pilot work in the name of etablishing an outdoor learning activity centre.
Baran E. et al. (2019). The impact of an out‐of‐school STEM education program on students’ attitudes toward STEM and STEM careers. School Science and Mathematics, 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1111/ssm.12330
Education Outside the Classroom (2005). House of Commons. Retrieved May 1, 2022, from https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200405/cmselect/cmeduski/120/120.pdf