Chattanooga, Tenn. (Sept 21, 2015) – As the excitement of “back to school” begins to wear off, some teachers may be finding it challenging to keep students pumped up about classroom lessons. But taking a little time to connect kids with nature may be the key to raising their achievement throughout the school year.
According to the National Environmental Education Foundation, learning outdoors is an ideal way to improve student performance, build critical thinking and relationship skills, foster self-directed learning while making other subjects seem rich and relevant.
Inspired by the local crowd-funding website Causeway, the Tennessee Aquarium has launched Take Five Outside, a fast and fun campaign to provide 10-and 11-year olds an opportunity to explore and learn in the great outdoors for two days.
Donors are encouraged to “Take Five” minutes “Outside” of their ordinary day to contribute online through Causeway. These gifts will be used to send 40 fifth graders from Calvin Donaldson Environmental Science Academy to Nature’s Classroom in Mentone, AL next spring.
The students will participate in environmental education lessons that help them discover nature while becoming better classmates. “Funds raised through this crowd-funding campaign will pay for an overnight trip that will allow these students to immerse themselves in a local ecosystem with expert staff,” said Carrie Howell Shaw, the Aquarium’s education program manager. “They’ll hike, learn about biodiversity and get to know themselves, and each other, better through a series of team-building activities.”
Calvin Donaldson Environmental Science Academy (CDESA) is a Title 1 school with a mission to, “foster responsible problem solvers who communicate and persevere, while respecting themselves and others.” The school serves a community that rarely has opportunities to become fully immersed in nature. Educators hope the Take Five Outside campaign will be successful, stimulating the academic and social growth of their 5th graders. “Calvin Donaldson is an inner city school with 99 percent of students on free or reduced lunch, based on household income. Most of our kids never have the opportunity to spend time outside, doing the things that many of us take for granted,” said Tammy Sitton, CDESA community outreach specialist. “Funding engaging hands-on experiences in our natural world is a struggle, so this would be an amazing opportunity for our students. Our kids desperately need these kind of experiences to enhance both their learning and their lives.”
This program builds on a long-standing relationship the Aquarium has had with Calvin Donaldson to nurture learning through outreach programs for pre-kindergarten and early elementary-aged children, Aquarium field trips, stream studies at Lula Lake Land Trust, and, now, a culminating overnight experience in nature.
The Take Five Outside project goal is $4,370 which covers room, board and all expenses associated with bringing 40 students to the Nature’s Classroom facility in Mentone, AL for a two-day outdoor learning and personal growth experience like no other.
Causeway is committed to boosting the impact of local non-profit organizations by matching donations by 50 percent through the end of September, up to $1,000 per project.
To support the Take Five Outside campaign, go to: http://bit.ly/take5outside