BR5I have a problem in my yard that ties in perfectly with a marvelous book full of activities for K—8 students!  I cannot get grass seed to germinate and cover the bare spots!  Maybe my seed is old?

I was just looking at Outdoor Science:  A Practical Guide by Steve Rich, and randomly opened it up to “Germination Determination:  Old Seeds, New Seeds (p. 70—71).”  This activity is from section 4, which has math connections.  Students are asked to compare how many seeds germinate from seed packages produced in different years, and graph their data.  I fear my graph would be a flat line!

This activity includes a page for the teacher and one for the students that could be photocopied, or used to provide ideas for the teacher.  On the teacher page are the following sections:  teaching objectives, why and how to use the lesson, materials, procedures and tips (including a good source for seeds), and assessment/next steps.

The student page has an introduction with questions to stimulate interest in the activity, directions, a sample data table, and ends with 3 open-ended questions which address what the student observed, interpretation of their graph, and what they might conclude from the activity.

There is also a link to “SciLinks,” National Science Teacher’s Association partnership with various textbook companies to provide additional links on the Internet to student appropriate sites related to the activity for research or extended learning.  The teacher must register (free) and use the link code provided with the activity.  Many textbooks also have “SciLinks.”

What I learned first on the “SciLinks” page on the Internet was that “Germination Determination” was designed for grades 3—8.  There are 15 sites for teachers listed, and 16 sites for students.  The teacher sites are listed first on the web page, and provide additional activities on seed germination and related topics, aimed at different grade or ability levels.  The student sites begin halfway down the page, and contain information of interest to students and additional activities.  These also are aimed at different grade or ability levels.

I have taught in a variety of circumstances, some of which had very limited in resources, such as the middle school that opened in the fall after burning to the ground at the end of the school year.  We were certainly resource challenged for quite a while! Having a book like this one would have made my life much easier!!

I purchased this book when assisting a district in creating outdoor classrooms at several of their schools, both elementary and secondary.  The first section is devoted to creating spaces for outdoor learning.  It advises the teacher to identify available resources, involve students, faculty, and parents in planning, and discusses various methods of financing such a venture.  Next it addresses a variety of plans, components, and safety concerns.  The second section is devoted entirely to financing and grant writing.

Sections 3—6 are activity sections to do in an outdoor classroom in the disciplines of science, math, language arts (reading and writing about nature), and social studies (humans and the outdoors).

So while enjoying the spring weather, let your imaginations flow in designing and planning to use the outdoors for all disciplines with your students!  The forward in the book mentions a “nature deficit disorder” from children spending too much time in front of a computer or TV screen.  Troubling trends seen in children include a lack of empathy for living things, and social isolation.  So take those devices away and send the children outside.   There is nothing to stimulate imagination like breathing fresh air on a sunny day!

Outdoor Science is available at the National Science Teachers’ Association (NSTA) store or Amazon.

Rich, Steve. Outdoor Science: A Practical Guide. Arlington, VA: NSTA/National Science Teachers Association, 2010. Print.     ISBN:  978-1-935155-12-6