A space for up to 30 students to take their learning outdoors is in the works for West Central Elementary after the school learned it has been awarded a $5,000 GOLD Grant by the Georgia Board of Education.

West Central sixth grade teacher Stephanie Lewis spearheaded the idea and the grant application that imagines a unique outdoor learning space.

The project plans to create an outdoor classroom for students from pre-K through sixth grade. Students will use the outdoor space to examine their world, investigate questions in all subject areas, and learn in a new environment, according to the grant application.

The space will also provide new experiences for West Central students, many of whom do not have access to many experiences outside of the classroom. The outdoor learning area will also provide additional resources for teachers to make learning more hands-on and experiential.

“Receiving this outdoor classroom grant is a testament to our commitment to providing engaging learning experiences for all our students, and I am grateful to Mrs. Lewis for taking the initiative to apply for it,” West Central Principal Jennifer Uldrick says. “We are thrilled to create a dynamic outdoor space that will inspire curiosity, exploration, and a deep connection to the nature that surrounds us.”

GOLD (Georgia Outdoor Learning Demonstration) Grants are intended to increase opportunities for students to benefit from outdoor learning.

Per the grant application, the outdoor learning space will provide a workspace for 30 students to conduct labs and experiments and a whiteboard for teachers to lead labs and experiments.  The weather station will provide real-world data for students in first and fourth grade as they study weather.  The compost bin will provide hands-on opportunities for students to experience how matter decays.  The sundial will be used by students in primary grades to learn how to tell time and understand how time works.

“The West Central community looks forward to partnering with other organizations in our community to complete this project including a local scouting troop that will provide volunteer labor as part of an Eagle Scout project,” Lewis says. “We are also excited about finding ways for our students and parents to help make this project come to life.”