Open Spaces as Learning Places

For nearly ten years, URI implemented and directed the Open Spaces as Learning Places curriculum to teach New Haven students about environmental stewardship within their communities. While aligned with state-mandated science standards for sixth grade, the curriculum encourages creative exploration of local open spaces as a tool for learning. In sixth grade, students are old enough to understand and appreciate the complex nature of local ecological systems and young enough to retain the sense of wonder that comes from investigating the world around them. Yale F&ES students taught the curriculum in dozens of classrooms between 2001 and 2009. The positive response by principals, teachers and their students led the New Haven Board of Education to adopt the Open Spaces curriculum as required instruction as of 2009.

While URI remains engaged with this incredibly successful program, the summer of 2009 witnessed a handing of the baton as thirty New Haven teachers attended workshops sponsored by NOAA and prepared to lead the curriculum on their own.