Learning in its natural environment

Learning in its natural environment

For the leaders of tomorrow to truly understand the world they’ll inherit, they’ll first need to interact with it. A conceptual plan EnSite put together for an outdoor learning environment on the campus of Oasis Elementary School and Oasis Middle School invites children to play, learn and socialize in the nature that surrounds them.

The design is based on ideas generated by the community. Students, teachers and parents all had input in the plan, which aims to replace a park that Hurricane Irma left in ruins. Oasis Elementary teacher Janet Altini and her students are leading the charge that’s drawing support from key stakeholders. Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello applauded the initiative when the plan was unveiled June 26 during a forum at Rotary Park’s environmental center. The Cape Coral Charter School Authority and the Cape Coral City Council have also expressed support.

The core goal of the park restoration is to support healthy development by increasing the benefit of outdoor experiences for students. The concept addresses four key educational components with a science-based play area, an arts and music-based play area, a nature-based play area, and a fitness-based play and playground area. It also includes an outdoor classroom, an innovative feature EnSite has previously helped bring to 11 schools throughout Southwest Florida. These inclusive spaces give students first-hand exposure to sometimes complex topics like filtration, water cycles, natural world inspired art and music, Florida friendly plants, and urban heat islands.

Still, plenty of work remains before the outdoor learning environment can come to fruition. The charter school authority and City Council have challenged the students, teachers and parents to raise the estimated $360,000 needed for construction. Altini plans to make the effort a class project this year, and those interested in helping can give them a head start. Oasis Elementary is currently accepting donations. Don’t hesitate to contact the Charter School Foundation or EnSite with any inquiries about the project.

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