How is BEETLES Changing Outdoor Science Education?
In a recently released evaluation, the Research Group at The Lawrence Hall of Science assesses the efficacy of the BEETLES (Better Environmental Education, Teaching, Learning, and Expertise Sharing) project. Developed at The Lawrence, BEETLES creates professional learning, teaching resources, and engaging student activities for outdoor science education programs. To examine the impact of BEETLES, the Research Group conducted interviews and surveys with leaders of outdoor programs who used resources and participated in programs developed by BEETLES from 2011–2015. After their experiences, program leaders reported a long-term change in their perceptions of teaching and learning, shifting to a more nature- and learner-centered paradigm. BEETLES was also shown to have effectively prepared program leaders to facilitate professional learning for their staff, instilling a culture of reflective practice and ongoing professional development. As a result, outdoor educators felt empowered to implement changes to make their curricula more engaging and better aligned with Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). A grant from the National Science Foundation is allowing the Research Group to continue studying BEETLES to determine the project’s significant positive influence in the field of outdoor science education.