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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, camping with no electricity and transporting their water in jugs and bins on student-made “chariots” constructed from repurposed bicycles.

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, re-creating experiences based in history from medieval trebuchets to Victorian letterboxes, and engaging in team problem-solving activities.  The campers stay in shelters that were built by students and maintain their camp sites and outdoor community based on principles of a Just Community.

The video tells the story of how the program originated and how it has evolved into an essential part of the junior high experience.  All aspects of the program, including the structures on the Land are designed to be “temporary,” with particular attention to sustainability, healthy eating and behavior, and volunteer participation of parents and adults in the school.  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.