Outdoor Classroom Project Initiated by Keep Knoxville Beautiful

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Outdoor Classroom Project Initiated by Keep Knoxville Beautiful

Posted: 09/20/2012
Mayor Rogero attended the opening this morning of the new Outdoor Classroom at the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum, along with County Mayor Tim Burchett, Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre, County Commissioner Ed Shouse, City Councilman Nick Della Volpe, and children from many Knox County schools.

The project was initiated by Keep Knoxville Beautiful. They are working with the Knoxville Botanical Garden, Ijams Nature Center, Knox County Schools, and Carol R. Johnson Associates to create an outdoor classroom so that children may be educated and hopefully inspired to protect our environment. Keep Knoxville Beautiful is able to help create this educational environment through a grant received by Waste Management and Keep America Beautiful. This future STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Classroom is located at the Wallis Butterfly Meadow a the Knoxville Botanical Garden. Sustainable Future is generously donating a solar powered water feature for this project. Support has also been garnered from WBIR and Cortese Tree Specialists.

The goals of this project are to reconnect children and families to the outdoors in a free learning environment, while engaging all the senses, and child-initiated activities that encourage intrinsic motivation, full engagement, and active learning. Today's children are becoming more disconnected with nature. Gone are the days when children ran outside and made up their own games using their imagination. Having an outdoor classroom encourages outdoor exploration in an intentionally designed space to foster meaningful learning. Youth will benefit from rich and versatile open-ended, natural materials.

This simple "classroom" will increase concern for the environment, increase a sense of wonder and imagination, increase language and collaborative skills and increase knowledge and understanding of geographical and ecological processes. The curriculum based around this new project will increase analytical, problem solving and critical thinking skills