Fall Brook students in an outdoor classroom – Photo by Pete Lanza

Environmental Education in Your Schoolyard, Classroom, or Neighborhood

NRWA professional educators can come to your school to lead place-based lessons in your classroom, in your schoolyard, along nearby streams, or on nearby conservation or public properties. We know how to make the best use of local natural resources as outdoor classrooms for powerful hands-on science lessons that will engage your students.

Students at an outdoor classroomEach NRWA environmental education lesson or project is designed to meet the needs of individual teachers, administrations, and school districts. Curriculum focuses on science topics that teachers need to address, and meets the requirements of Massachusetts and New Hampshire standards for science and technology.

Lessons may be taught in the classroom, such as Wildlife Adaptations or the Water Cycle, or outdoors, such as Tree Circumference, Plant Adaptations, and Maple Sugaring, or they may combine both an indoor and outdoor component.

Below is a list of current lesson topics, but remember, we have the flexibility and knowledge to design a new lesson to meet your needs. If you think you’d like the NRWA to present a series of lessons for your class, please consider our Scientist-in-Residence program.

If your school needs funding assistance, the NRWA may be able to work with your school or district to find financial support through grants and other funding sources.

To have the NRWA present a program at your school, or for more information, please contact Stacey Chilcoat, NRWA River Classroom Director, at (978) 448-0299, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Current Classroom and Schoolyard Lesson Topics

I/O: indoor and/or outdoor
I: indoor only
O: outdoors only

All Seasons

  • Enviroscape (run-off pollution model where students create solutions) I/O
  • Wildlife Adaptations: (inherited vs. non-inherited characteristics) I/O
  • Wildlife Adaptations: (instinctive vs. learned behaviors) I/O
  • Plant Adaptations (environmental effects, seasonal changes) I/O
  • Water Cycle Experiment I
  • Soil Lab: (properties and retention) I/O
  • Moon Phases and Earth Movement I
  • Mapping the Schoolyard: contour maps and 3-d model building I/O
  • Math Studies: calculating diversity and graphing species I/O
  • Environmental Games such as Project WILD “Oh Deer”, Project PLT “Every Tree for Itself” or Project WET “Journey of a Raindrop” I/O
  • Stone Wall Investigations O
  • Math in the Field (measuring in the schoolyard) I/O
  • The Scientific Process: developing your own hypothesis and testing it in the school yard I/O
  • Tree Survey of the School yard O
  • Engineering in Nature: nature designs and man-made inventions I/O
  • Bones Investigations (wildlife) I
  • Birds of the Schoolyard O

Fall, Spring, and Summer

  • Water Erosion and Prevention I/O
  • Plant Diversity in the Schoolyard (for school with lawn habitats) O
  • Forest, Field or Aquatic Ecosystems: plants, insects or small animal survey O
  • Forest, Field or Aquatic Ecosystems: how organisms interact and function in that ecosystem. O
  • Producers, Consumers and Decomposers in a Forest I/O
  • Producers, Consumers and Decomposers in an Aquatic Ecosystem I/O
  • Macro-invertebrate Study (aquatic insects/life cycles) I/O
  • Watershed Survey of Neighborhood O
  • Shoreline Survey (need a stream or river) O
  • Chemistry Testing of Lake of Pond O
  • Flow Studies in Stream or River: calculating velocity O
  • Invasive Plants: Identification and Competition I/O
  • Seeds: How do they Travel? O
  • Ant Baiting and Tracking in the School-yard O
  • Insect Survey of the School-yard O
  • Plot Studies: using square meter plots to graph species O
  • Vernal Pool Investigations (spring only I/O)
  • Citizen Scientists Programs:
    1. Project BudBurst: This project is a network of people across the United States who monitor plants as the seasons change. It is national field campaign designed to engage the public in the collection of important ecological data based on the timing of leafing, flowering, and fruiting of plants (plant phenophases). Project BudBurst participants make careful observations of these plant phenophases. The data are being collected in a consistent manner across the country so that scientists can use the data to learn more about the responsiveness of individual plant species to changes in climate locally, regionally, and nationally.
    2. National Wildlife Federation: Certify your schoolyard as a “Certified Wildlife Habitat” or become involved in the Wildlife Watch program.

Students at an outdoor classroom in winterWinter Only

  • Maple Sugaring/ Photosynthesis/ Plant Structures I/O
  • Animals In Winter I/O

Long Term Projects

  • How Ecosystems Change Overtime: a series in the school yard (4 visits minimum)
  • Nature Trail Development, Maintenance or Restoration (service project with students)
  • Service Learning Projects in the Schoolyard or Conservation Property (investigate an environmental “problem” and take action to improve the community)