Taking Learning Outdoors
Given the aim of the iUTAH project to engage and build a water-wise citizenry, it seemed only fitting that the project partnered with the Natural History Museum of Utah’s Taking Learning Outdoors program. Over the six years that the TLO program was active in Utah schools, it was able to equip 98 K-12 teachers with resources, information, and professional insight that has helped them bring their local watershed into their classrooms.
About the Program
Taking Learning Outdoors (TLO) was a place-based learning program for educators, coordinated through the Natural History Museum of Utah and supported by iUTAH. The program helped teachers use nature to provide authentic learning experiences for their students. Geared primarily towards teachers in grades K-8, TLO offered a 5-part workshop series combining field trips with classroom visits and innovative educational resources centered on topics about water quality and quantity, sustainability, and Utah’s natural environment
Teachers examined their local watershed and learned how they can most effectively incorporate these natural phenomena into their curriculum. These teachers then brought this training into their classrooms, helping the program to reach over 12,000 students. When asked about their experience, one teacher said, “I feel that my confidence has increased as a result of realizing that science is all about using observations to describe and define our natural environment. Observations cannot be wrong. They can become more specific, defined and refined over time but they aren’t wrong. This helped me to be less afraid of science and love it more.”
TLO Curriculum & Materials
A lasting legacy of the TLO program is the curriculum and insights available on NHMU’s website. These lessons have been made available to encourage teachers to continue to take their classes outside by providing resources and lesson plans to help teachers feel more comfortable teaching outdoors. These lessons even include resources developed by Nancy Bo Flood, the author of Water Runs Through This Book, a book supported by iUTAH and given to many libraries, schools, and students throughout the state.
Banners in TLO Schools
While the TLO program has ended its formal teaching program, banners hang in 50 schools across the state that participated in the program. These banners encourage use of the lessons developed over the past five years. They also remind TLO teachers to share what they learned, helping their students to take an active interest in their watershed in a multi-disciplinary way.