Table of Contents
Use of Outdoor Education to Increase Physical Activity and Science Learning among Low-Income Children from Urban Schools
– Jessica Peacock, April Bowling, Kevin Finn, and Kyle McInnis
Background: Outdoor education may positively impact the educational, physical, and emotional development of youth, but studies are sparse among urban children.
Purpose: To investigate 1) physical activity (PA) levels in outdoor versus indoor education environments, 2) science learning gains during outdoor education, and 3) programmatic acceptability among children from an urban, low-income school district attending an outdoor education program.
Methods: N = 69 were randomly chosen from 571 4th graders participating in an outdoor education program. PA levels were measured using accelerometers; science knowledge was measured using a pre-post assessment; acceptability was assessed using a questionnaire.
Results: Students took part in over an hour more of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) (p < .05) and increased the proportion of time spent in MVPA by 25% (p < .05) on outdoor education days compared to indoor school days. Science knowledge improved significantly pre- to post participation (p < .01). Students reported high levels of enjoyment and science learning engagement. Teachers reported the experience increased students’ PA levels and improved students’ science knowledge.
Discussion: School districts may be able to leverage outdoor programs with community partners to promote PA and simultaneously improve science learning.
Translation to Health Education Practice: Community partnerships can help urban youth from under-resourced schools meet PA recommendations and improve academic performance through outdoor education programming.
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