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Hundred 2018
Want to give every child the joy of daily outdoor play and discovery?

Outdoor Discovery Centre

Marker Singapore
In a world where technology is ubiquitous and there is a growing disconnect between people and the environment, the Outdoor Discovery Centre gives every child the cognitive, social and physical benefits of daily outdoor learning.
Introduction

What is the Outdoor Discovery Centre?

JoAn Radojkovich
“If we want healthy, functioning children who understand the value and importance of the outdoor environment, we need to create opportunities for them to experience it every day.”

JoAn Radojkovich, Lakeside Campus Principal, Canadian International School

Time spent outdoors and in nature has well-documented health and learning benefits, so it is crucial that children are provided with these opportunities from a young age. But for many children, particularly those living in cities, access to the outdoor spaces is limited.

The Outdoor Discovery Centre was built three years ago as part of the Canadian International School in Singapore. It is made up of 15 outdoor classrooms, converted from a playing field. The Centre ensures that all children have the opportunity to move, walk and play outdoors every day.

The Centre fosters a holistic approach to education, connecting children with their environment and providing a rich springboard for improved learning, health and wellbeing. There is also a focus on social development, encouraging children to relate well to each other in a variety of environments and often in a mixed age setting. The more informal setting gives educators a chance to understand who each child is and what motivates and interests them, so this can be incorporated into their education.

The outdoor learning spaces are made entirely from natural materials, with hills and tunnels planted with grass. Children are exposed to the elements and there’s plenty of opportunity to move in an organic way to stimulate mental and physical wellbeing. The school reports increased attention, curiosity and concentration after the children have outdoor sessions, as well as a reduction in behavioural incidents. Increased imagination and creative problem-solving skills are also reported, while parents are pleased with enthusiastic stories of school and improved sleep.

The space provides almost endless opportunities for physical movement and play. A very large mud kitchen allows children to submerge to their waist in mud, with lots of water basins where they can become scientists, mathematicians, cooks and outdoor experimenters. There’s also a large sandpit, as well as a bicycle track running the perimeter of the play area.

There are plenty of settings for creative expression too. There are four different platform areas where children can perform, sit, read, paint and write stories. A sound garden provides pipes and other objects that children can use to create musical performances. Large graffiti boards provide a space for painting and chalking designs.

Two gardens allow children to grow their own food, using a variety of technologies and techniques, including aeroponics and hydroponics, and experimenting with alternative sources of energy and compositing. The gardens also provide opportunities for school-wide learning projects and connections to the local community. Children are involved in the plants' and vegetables’ growth from beginning to end, while trees and flowers encourage butterflies, bees and other insects, allowing for lots of hands-on scientific discussion and discovery.

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Intended Outcomes
1365
Views
2 - 13
Age Group
2015
Established
Resources Needed
This kind of project requires someone with a vision, a group of supportive staff, a builder, and someone to maintain the outdoor centre. Strategic planning and building work would need to take place over a period of several months, or even years.
HundrED Criteria
innovativeness
impact
scalability
The Outdoor Discovery Centre provides the opportunity for children to be in an immersive outdoor space in the middle of a bustling city.
Impact grows each year. As staff become more conversant to the Outdoor Discovery Centre's use, they both realise and develop the cognitive, social, emotional, and physical benefits students receive. Parents' and communities' interest in both the Centre and the school has grown considerably. There are multiple research papers and reviews that show the evidence of benefits of children’s experience in natural environments including health through increased physical activity; wellbeing through enhancing social and intrapersonal qualities and educational attainment through developing ‘characters’ of resilience and confidence as precursors to successful learning.
Multiple Outdoor Discovery Centres have been built in Singapore with more to come. Blueprints and Centre layouts are easily transferable from campus to campus.
Posts

See this innovation in action.

Comment
“I love this program! Since I teach in an urban setting, I use similar ideals but they have to be done in the city par...”
Brett Bigham
Comment
“NATURE, PLAY, REAL WORLD LEARNING, SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING ”
Bogdan Badiu

Steps

Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

01
Design
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02
Build
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03
Implement
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04
Expand
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05
Sustain
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Contact

Connect with the innovator

JoAn Radojkovich
Innovator
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