Linking Environmental Education Centers Current Curriculum to National Physical Education Standards
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources
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Environmental education centers (EECs) provide quality programming to school groups. Often this curriculum is science based. EECs strive to meet the needs of their school audiences. One way that EECs meet their curriculum is to incorporate outdoor recreation activities such as canoeing and kayaking. These activities also are meeting some physical education standards as well. Research has shown that movement can improve learning by allowing students another way to interact with material being taught. Outdoor recreation as a means to educate students’ sets up a both experiential and place based learning strategy. This gives students opportunities to interact with material on a variety of ways, and give context to abstract concepts. Many EECs use outdoor recreation as a method to meet their teaching techniques. By meeting physical education standards through outdoor recreation EECs can give more to their audiences, without adding to current curriculum. Physical education funding has been cut in many places across the United States, at the time where we have a problem with obesity. If EECs are able to provide this service to their audiences this could prove valuable for both EECs and visiting schools. I interviewed EEC education and executive directors and analyzed them. From this I determined how important outdoor recreation was to their programming and how they were meeting physical education standards. I found that EECs are meeting four out of the five physical education standards. Within my study I have also determined that EECs providing outdoor recreation activities to everyone is a valuable service to maintain to healthy population of people. Recommendations for future research are interviewing educators, doing case studies, and tracking the amount of physical activity students get per day.