Outside Classroom

Catamount Institute

2021 Innovative EE Program Award Recipient

Catamount Institute's Outside Classroom - kids explore critters in a stream

Outstanding EE Program: Covid-19 Response

The Outside Classroom was created as a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Catamount Institute saw the need for outdoor programming during the school year, with many students spending hours and hours on online and remote learning devices. Students are dropped off at the Catamount Institute for 2-hour grade-appropriate outdoor science lessons that follow Colorado Department of Education standards. The students spend their time exploring an urban park and creek while getting to be around other students in a safe environment. Typically during the school year, Catamount Institute is busy with school programs and field trips. Still, we had to think on our feet to support the many parents who wanted the social experience and educational instruction support. For several students, this was the only weekly experience they had with people outside of their immediate family. One kindergarten student said, “you are the first real people I have seen in months!”

When asked if the Outside Classroom had an impact on their children, one parent said, “My children developed more grit, independence, and risk-taking. They are more respectful of nature. They want to be outdoors more often. They know how to build up an appetite by being active outdoors!” So far there have been sessions of the Outside Classroom in the fall and spring with over 70 children each. We are excited about this program and the future continuing the program even after the pandemic.