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New report shows severe loss of capacity for outdoor and environmental science education

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New report shows severe loss of capacity for outdoor and environmental science education

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders have stressed the opportunity for families to get outside and learn more about their natural surroundings. The opportunities to observe migratory patterns of birds, grow fruits and vegetables at home or in community gardens, and simply learn more about the natural flora and fauna in your neighborhood have been starker since so many students and families were required to stay at home. But while many of us have found comfort or escape in the outdoors during these times, those responsible for leading education programs for children and families have experienced the severe financial impact of school closures and social distancing requirements.

A new report released by UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science shows just how devastating the pandemic has been on outdoor and environmental science education organizations. These organizations, often key partners to schools and out-of-school time organizations, have not been immune to stay-at-home orders from local and state governments. Survey responses from 1000 organizations show that 63% of those programs are uncertain about their ability to reopen following the pandemic. Additionally, by December 31, 2020: 

  • 11 million kids who would have been served by 1,000 organizations will have missed environmental and outdoor science learning opportunities. 60% of them are from communities of color or low income communities.
  • $600M in lost revenue from 1,000 organizations
  • 30,000 employees laid off or furloughed from 1,000 organizations
  • 30% of organizations nationally are highly unlikely to reopen
  • Over 1/3 of the outdoor education field (up to 65%) is likely to disappear, eroding a key component of the nation’s education infrastructure.

Like the afterschool field, outdoor education has the ability to be key partners in the way schools serve students when they can safely return to school. If we’re going to reimagine the way students learn, we can take lessons that outdoor educators have learned in how to best engage students and implement them into our education system. School districts can look to engage outdoor educators to work directly with schools to increase the capacity of the classroom by utilizing outdoor space, providing new learning environments that help students better understand how human actions contribute to climate change and sustainability, while contributing to positive cognitive/academic, dispositional, social-emotional, and health outcomes among participants.

The full report, with several recommendations for the outdoor education field, can be found here.

New Education Innovation and Research competition prioritizes STEM and computer science in latest call for proposals

On July 29, The United States Department of Education released the call for proposals for the FY2020 round of early and mid-phase EIR grants. The EIR competition provides funding to “create, develop, implement, replicate, or take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated...

BY: Chris Neitzey      08/11/20

New report shows severe loss of capacity for outdoor and environmental science education

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders have stressed the opportunity for families to get outside and learn more about their natural surroundings. The opportunities to observe migratory patterns of birds, grow fruits and vegetables at home or in community gardens, and simply learn more about the...

BY: Chris Neitzey      06/12/20

Bringing STEM learning home during social distancing

These are difficult times for so many of our young people and their families. With school closures impacting families across the country, and extracurricular activities put on hold, finding ways for students to stay busy and engaged is likely at the top of mind for parents and guardians....

BY: Chris Neitzey      03/19/20

FY21 budget request looks familiar when it comes to STEM education

It’s been over a year since the Trump administration released their five-year STEM Education strategy, and in that time, appropriations for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education programs at the U.S. Department of Education, National Science Foundation, NASA, and other...

BY: Chris Neitzey      02/27/20

State of STEM learning in Congress and the White House

Rural STEM Education Act introduced in House   A new bill, H.R. 4979 - Rural STEM Education Act, was introduced in the House on November 5 to address the lack of STEM education opportunities for students in rural areas. The bipartisan legislation, introduced by Rep. Lucas (R-Okla.) and...

BY: Chris Neitzey      11/15/19

An exciting, rewarding experience for our youth

By Afterschool Ambassador Gwynette Williams, director of Collective for Youth, Omaha. When teens are struggling with issues they find difficult to talk about, how can they ask for help? Recently, my middle school students identified that question as a social issue they wanted to...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/16/19

Promoting access to computer science for girls

Earlier this month, CBS’s 60 Minutes highlighted the work of Code.org in expanding access to computer science opportunities for girls. The 60 Minutes piece drew public attention to the growing number of tech-related jobs across the country and the lack of women currently filling these...

BY: Leah Silverberg      03/26/19

STEM learning in the president’s FY2020 budget proposal

It’s often said that a budget is a statement of priorities and last week a majority of President Trump’s priorities were laid out through his FY2020 budget proposal. Due to the partial government shutdown earlier this year, it was a full week before all of the details, specifically...

BY: Chris Neitzey      03/25/19

Free STEM resources for afterschool programs from Science Buddies

By Amy Cowen, online community manager at Science Buddies. Science Buddies, a non-profit organization providing free K-12 STEM education resources, strives to build STEM literacy by delivering fun and engaging STEM activities to all students, whether it is in school, out of school, or at home....

BY: Guest Blogger      03/08/19

National Leap Into Science Week celebrates science & literacy learning in OST

The week of February 25 to March 3, 2019 is National Leap Into Science Week, the annual celebration of Leap Into Science, a national program with a mission to integrate open-ended science activities with children’s books and literacy efforts in libraries, museums, and out-of-school time...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      02/22/19

Structuring for scale-up success: Adaptive program model

By Meeta Sharma-Holt, vice president of programs and strategic partnerships at Techbridge Girls. This is the fourth in a four-blog series: read the previous blog, Structuring for scale-up success: Organizational structure for sustainability & scales, or head to the first...

BY: Guest Blogger      01/16/20

Structuring for scale-up success: Organizational structure for sustainability & scale

By Meeta Sharma-Holt, vice president of programs and strategic partnerships at Techbridge Girls. This is the third in a four-blog series: read the first blog, Structuring for scale-up success: Techbridge Girls shares lessons from its 5-year scale-up of STEM programs, and the second blog,...

BY: Guest Blogger      01/09/20

Structuring for scale-up success: Partnerships first

By Meeta Sharma-Holt, vice president of programs and strategic partnerships at Techbridge Girls. This is the second in a four-blog series: read the first blog, Structuring for scale-up success: Techbridge Girls shares lessons from its 5-year scale-up of STEM programs. During the last...

BY: Guest Blogger      12/12/19

Structuring for scale-up success: Techbridge Girls shares lessons from its 5-year scale-up of STEM programs

By Meeta Sharma-Holt, vice president of programs and strategic partnerships at Techbridge Girls. This is the first in a four-blog series: read the second blog, Structuring for scale-up success: Partnerships first. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that STEM jobs are...

BY: Guest Blogger      12/06/19

Promoting access to computer science for girls

Earlier this month, CBS’s 60 Minutes highlighted the work of Code.org in expanding access to computer science opportunities for girls. The 60 Minutes piece drew public attention to the growing number of tech-related jobs across the country and the lack of women currently filling these...

BY: Leah Silverberg      03/26/19

Applications open for free summer immersion program from Girls Who Code

The Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program is a free seven-week experience for 10th- and 11th-grade girls interested in gaining exposure to coding and jobs in technology. Program participants will use computer science to create art, tell stories, make video games, program robots, build...

BY: Leah Silverberg      01/28/19

Structuring for scale-up success: Adaptive program model

By Meeta Sharma-Holt, vice president of programs and strategic partnerships at Techbridge Girls. This is the fourth in a four-blog series: read the previous blog, Structuring for scale-up success: Organizational structure for sustainability & scales, or head to the first...

BY: Guest Blogger      01/16/20

Applications open for free summer immersion program from Girls Who Code

The Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program is a free seven-week experience for 10th- and 11th-grade girls interested in gaining exposure to coding and jobs in technology. Program participants will use computer science to create art, tell stories, make video games, program robots, build...

BY: Leah Silverberg      01/28/19

Education Innovation and Research grant provides opportunities for student apprenticeships

Eighteen new grantees were recently awarded Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grants from the Department of Education. Developed under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), EIR grants, which are inspired by the Investing in...

BY: Leah Silverberg      11/05/18

Renewed commitments to computer science at CSforAll Summit

On October 8, computer science (CS) educators and advocates descended on Detroit, Michigan for the 2018 CSforALL Summit. As part of this year’s summit, a special one-day working session, entitled Mo’ Time for CS Education, was held to bring practitioners, advocates, researchers, and...

BY: Chris Neitzey      10/29/18

New California “Kids Code” program to expand computer coding in afterschool

The Kids Code Pilot Program, which passed the California Legislature earlier this year and was championed by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, will provide $15 million in funding over three years to expand access to coding in afterschool programs across the state. The pilot program will allow existing...

BY: Chris Neitzey      09/21/18