Outdoors + Science… Does it work?

I believe that…

Being outdoors in the forest + An awareness of the potential for scientific learning = The development of scientific knowledge and skills.

The benefits of taking learning into wild environments such as the forest are well documented and widely discussed. They include the enhancement of well-being (MIND, 2007), the opportunity to problem-solve, cooperate, take risks and consequently develop confidence and self-esteem (Knight, 2011). Alongside this, forest schools are praised for their potential in providing opportunities to explore different aspects of the National Curriculum, including science, in a real-life context (STEM, 2009).

The entries in this blog highlight how observations, experiences and discoveries in the forest can act as a catalyst for scientific learning, with my own personal reflections on “How does this work?”… “Why does this happen?”… “What does this mean?” being explored and leading to scientific knowledge being gained. Outdoor environments provide many natural stimuli on which to build and explore areas of the Science National Curriculum such as seasonal changes, forces, properties of materials, animals, plants and habitats (Department for Education, 2013).

The skills necessary for science learning can also be developed by regularly visiting the same forest environment, a key feature of the forest school approach (Knight, 2011). Observational skills, where children notice what has changed since last visit, paying attention to details and looking for evidence, can be developed. Investigation skills are also strengthened as children follow their curiosity in trying and testing ideas, questioning, hypothesising and coming to conclusions.

The opportunity for child-led scientific enquiry, facilitated in forest school approaches, is an invaluable method in developing children’s scientific learning (Hayward, 2018). Therefore, as an educator with an awareness of the benefits of outdoor learning in the forest and the potential for scientific learning in such an environment, I will seek to develop children’s scientific knowledge and skills by facilitating such experiences.  


Department for Education. (2013) Science Programmes of study: Key Stages 1 and 2

Hayward, J. (2018) Can’t see the wood for the trees? What Forest School can do for science

Knight, S. (2011) Forest School for All

MIND. (2007) Ecotherapy – the green agenda for mental health

STEM. (2009) Outdoor learning with Forest School


  1. Outdoors! Science is great and interesting but at the end of the day nature still rules and moves on whether we like it or not.

    1. It’s amazing how we can use nature to learn so much about science! I think you might be interested in my blog post “Is it good to be wild?”…it looks at the concept of ‘rewilding’, where nature is left to go where it wants to go!

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