By Beth Daley, Globe Staff
When I was a kid, school didn't always take place inside: My grade school teacher would march my classmates and I outside to identify oak and birch trees. By junior high we were examining a muddy brook to understand wetlands and in high school, my senior class piled in a bus and rode for two hours to conduct a daylong beach clean-up.
For a variety of reasons – including time and money –that doesn’t seem to happen as often as it used to, especially in urban areas. And that is where the Boston Youth Environmental Network comes in. The three-year old group wants to get all Boston Public School students outdoors at least twice a year to learn science. The hope is the students will learn about the environment – and develop a life long respect for the natural world they live in.
The group brokers relationships between environmental groups and schools, works to integrate environmental education in the BPS science curriculum, holds teen environmental job fairs and in October, held the first citywide summit on urban environmental education.
Now, the group is kicking off a new effort called Get Out and Learn (GOAL).
The effort is modeled after legislation the U.S. House of Representatives passed in September called No Child Left Inside to strengthen environmental education experiences.
Last week the group trained Boston area non-profit environmental education organizations on how to partner with Boston Public School teachers to plan field experiences that mesh with the BPS science curriculum.
Research backs up their Network's effort: Studies shows that students involved in environmental education demonstrated improved critical thinking, a better ability to apply science to real-world situations and improved science knowledge, according to a study in the Journal of Environmental Education. Several other studies show that children’s involvement in environmental education can provide a foundation for environmental stewardship behavior.
For more information go to www.environetwork.org
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