Harding Opens New Outdoor Classroom

By Santa Barbara Unified School District

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Wednesday morning for a new Outdoor Classroom at Harding University Partnership School (HUPS).

The project transformed one of the school’s play spaces into an outdoor classroom. The project’s architect included a Dimensions Educational Research Foundation team that helped create a “Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom Conceptual Plan.” This project is a proof of concept and an initial phase of the Early Learning Plan “Project H.O.P.E+S” — funded through a grant awarded to SBUSD from First 5 of Santa Barbara.  This long-term grant ultimately aims to provide 21st-century learning environments at all elementary schools. 

STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) labs are also being developed to work in concert with the outdoor classrooms. With one supporting the other, students will learn through inquiry-based, hands-on, and collaborative learning to increase student outcomes across the district.

“With the Outdoor Classroom newly opened, we already see a shift in student play to small group collaborative learning around exploration, building, and creating.  UCSB is conducting a research project around the impact that this space has on our young students. We look forward to seeing this become a model other schools can use,” said Principal Veronica Binkley. 

Construction on the Outdoor Classroom started in December but was delayed due to the rainy winter. 

“We are excited to see the outdoor classroom come together. We look forward to seeing how Harding uses the outdoor classroom to inspire future scientists, engineers, artists, and scholars,” said Dr. Hilda Maldonado, Superintendent.


Written by SBUnified

Press releases written by the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD). Learn more at sbunified.org

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  1. Three years after the pandemic started they finally created an outdoor classroom.
    “21st-century learning environments “ because outdoor schooling is a new tech? Novel idea to actually teach outside?
    Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to see the sciences being taught. But seriously?
    All the time schools were closed not one SBUSD person could figure out how to use he $35,000,000 received in COVID funding to make our classrooms safe. And they still have not done anything for the next pandemic.

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