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Nasmyth Environmental Center

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Outdoor education opens the door to much more than science.

Taking outdoor education to a new level, the Nasmyth Environmental Center (NEC) draws elementary students closer to applied sciences at an earlier age. Experimenting, testing, and coming to conclusions over long periods of time proves to keep students engaged with the material and advances them into higher stages of learning. 

As they nurture plants that grow and blossom in our 2,300 sq ft greenhouse, care for chickens in our on-site chicken coop and consider how to market the eggs, students tackle real-world challenges, collaboratively developing insightful solutions.

The new and unusual foods grown in the greenhouse nudge those young, picky eaters to expand their palates with nutrition and cooking lessons throughout the semester. A simple recipe teaches children not only of the importance of a healthy lifestyle but also of a healthy food cycle as a whole. Interesting: The cafeteria also serves some of the food that is grown in the garden. Students are likely to eat what they have had a hand in growing.

“Some GAC learning standards are better suited for lessons in the NEC, where they can come alive. In our greenhouse, we can touch on all aspects, from raising food to eating it. We raise the fish, but then the students also learn how to gut and clean them. Students learn to think about the future of agriculture through our work with aquaponics. We talk about how chickens are raised and how they get to the store. For some students, this is an epiphany.”

Lisa Chase, NEC lead teacher