The outdoor classroom at Harding University Partnership School (HUPS) was named a Certified Nature Explore Classroom.
The award was presented after HUPS opened its new outdoor learning space last spring. The project transformed an old, interior playground into a rich outdoor classroom that features a pollinator garden, a stage, an art zone, a balance zone, and a construction zone, along with other features that encourage learning through exploration.
The new certification was awarded by the Nature Explore program, which is a division of the
nonprofit Dimensions Educational Research Foundation.
In conjunction with the Harding Makerspace, the newly certified Nature Explore Classroom offers young students a variety of interactive elements that build creativity, imagination, and innovation while developing a depth of knowledge in environmental literacy.
“This project represents all the possibilities that span the Cities of Santa Barbara and Goleta. Students are born as natural scientists, and as they grow and develop, educators nurture this curiosity and facilitate their critical thinking and development,” said Dr. Hilda Maldonado, superintendent.
Harding University Partnership School’s Nature Explore Classroom was a vision created by a team of master educators, UCSB researchers, and landscape architects in response to the documented growing disconnect between children and nature.
“The positive impact on students can already be seen at HUPS as they work and play together using observation, language and student agency in creating additions to their outdoor environment,” principal Veronica Binkley.
Harding joins an ever-expanding network of more than 500 like-minded Outdoor Classrooms nationwide.