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Land Lab – Outdoor Education

The Montessori Land Lab: Practice in Sustainability, Creativity, and Collaboration with Junior High Students

Land Program from The Greensboro Montessori School on Vimeo.The GMS Land Laboratory outdoor education program was designed by a team of Montessori teachers in 2004.  Based on Dr. Maria Montessori’s vision of the Erdkinder, early adolescent students travel to a wooded retreat in Oak Ridge, NC every six to eight weeks for 3 nights and 4 days. Maria Montessori wrote that “work on the land is an introduction both to nature and civilization and gives a limitless field for scientific and historical studies… a rural atmosphere offers students a kind of ‘place apart’ — a safe and healthy environment to promote their transition to adulthood.”

Students spend their days in rotations linked to their school curriculum, based on Dr. Montessori’s Great Lessons, studying the natural world, collecting and analyzing data for a local river conservancy, and engaging in team problem-solving activities while also living as a community, cooking and sharing meals, and being responsible for themselves and others.

The video tells the story of how the program originated and how it has evolved into an essential part of the junior high experience.  We believe it is important for students to step away from their normal lives, to unplug from technology, and to develop ethical stewardship in a place for which they care and feel a sense of responsibility. The GMS Land Lab is one of the few outdoor experiential programs for adolescents in the Southeast and is an integral part of the Junior High curriculum.