Designing Creative Learning Experiences Through Outdoor Innovation


South Tower - Terrace (end of the hall)

  • Primary Core Competencies: Educational Visioning
  • AIA CEU: 1.0 LU HSW
  • Secondary Core Competencies: Assessment of the School Facility


Creating outdoor learning experiences that are impactful and exciting certainly challenges staff to step out of the comfort zone of their classrooms and school buildings, but the effort can result in great reward. Join us for a unique perspective on how scaled learning experiences can be leveraged through the connection of instructional approach and space design in the great outdoors.  

Valuable to both educators and designers, we’ll share a holistic research effort that includes preconceived educator views on what outdoor learning brings to the educational landscape, observational research of student experiences and follow-up findings from the educator’s perspective. An important discussion point will be the inclusion of community resources to provide an additional layer of instructional support to educators and students.  

By establishing a process that emphasizes learning at all phases of a project, we can build empathy in designers, incorporate students in a meaningful way and create environments that are flexible tools for educators. You’ll journey with us as we explore multiple ways to create learning experiences during the implementation of an outdoor learning environment, as well the benefits educators can leverage during instructional design. We’ll also share how working with sustainability and curriculum/instruction resources can frame sustainability challenges as project-based learning scenarios for students. Aligning these efforts with grade level and Next Generation Science Standards, we can jointly work toward a goal of personalizing learning and bolstering student achievement for life-long success.  

Learning Objectives

OBJ #1  Participants will become familiar with opportunities to leverage school and community resources to create personalized and immersive learning opportunities for students.

OBJ #2  Participants will be able to identify the impact of educator awareness and training on the successful use of an outdoor learning environment by students and staff.

OBJ #3  Participants will be able to consider various implementation options of learning opportunities during the design, construction and use of an outdoor environment.

OBJ #4  Participants will learn how sustainability interests and science standards can be considered during design to bolster student engagement in outdoor learning experiences.

Ryan Kalis, Ed.S., Principal, Sunflower Elementary, Shawnee Mission School District

Michelle Chavey, AIA, ALEP, Partner | Educational Design Director, Hollis + Miller Architects