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Showing posts from April, 2013

Turning the tide: Reconnecting kids to nature

By Cathy Jordan

Today's youth are the first generation to be more connected to electronic devices than to the outdoors and the natural world. As adults, today's young people will likely identify as indoor types rather than outdoor types.

One of my passions is connecting children and youth to nature. When I speak to adult groups about this topic I often ask the audience to think of a favorite memory from childhood. I then ask for a show of hands. "Raise your hand if your memory involved the natural world." A huge majority raises their hands. But if I were to ask the youth of today that question 20 or 30 years from now, they would be much less likely to think of a memory involving nature.

As we only protect what we know and love, this generation will grow up to be less likely to value our natural resources and to engage in preservation and conservation. Their disconnection from nature will lead to future generations that are at least as disconnected, unless we interve…

Keeping scientific curiosity alive beyond the early years

By Rebecca Meyer

Through play, children are natural scientists, but few adults carry that playful curiosity and investigation into adulthood. This is pretty well documented. The scientist Carl Sagan said, "Every kid starts out a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for science intact."

I've long had a vague feeling that a connection exists between my seemingly disparate work on nature play, environmental education, science and engineering. My struggle has been to make a cohesive theory from them. I had a moment of clarity as I stumbled into the idea that "messing about in the outdoors" is in essence a foundation for motivating interest and skill in engineering design and science inquiry. I realized that childhood play involves self-made, intrinsically motivated activities that sow the seeds for science inquiry.

Wolfe, Cummins, & Myers point out the importance of youth-direc…

EQ as a basis for academic and career success

By Margo Herman

How are we preparing our youth in terms of social and emotional growth?

Daniel Goleman, one of the emotional intelligence gurus of our day, calls this educating the whole student by "bringing together mind and heart". Goleman speaks about the journey of bringing intelligence to emotion and keeping distressing emotions in check.

Emotional intelligence is:
Being self awareBeing socially awareBeing able to manage feelingsHaving empathy for and awareness of othersBeing able to bring this awareness into relationship skills, as illustrated by Jean Hammink's emotional intelligence model These are life skills for all people, young and old. But how do youth workers go about intentionally nurturing these competencies?

I learned more about this recently when I attended the Building a Grad Nation Summit 2013 in Washington D.C., put on by America's Promise Alliance. The summit focused on the potential we have to impact the achievement gap in education. My favorite …

Warning: Inquiry-based learning requires facilitators who know the answers

By Hui-Hui Wang

Recently, I delivered a 30 minute presentation about experiential learning for new program staff. Naturally, I set up an intriguing hands-on, inquiry-based activity for the new staff members to experience this kind of learning for themselves.

One of the critical concepts embedded in experiential learning is inquiry. To do inquiry-based learning, an instructor presents a scenario or problem, then guides learners to identify questions and delve into them to develop their knowledge.

As they did the activity, I guided the new staff members to develop their knowledge and solutions without telling them the answers or what to do. They were really frustrated and asked me why didn't I just give them the answers. Eventually, one of them said, "See, this is how easy it is to be an instructor when you do experiential learning. You don't need to know the answer. You just keep asking people to find out the answer themselves."

This type of comment was not new to me,…