On September 26, more than 150 teachers, students, and community volunteers will work side-by-side to build an Outdoor Learning Lab at Lebanon Road Elementary in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Soon, Lebanon Road students will have a dynamic new Outdoor Learning Lab where teachers can lead exciting and engaging outdoor experiential lessons that add relevance, purpose, and real-world meaning to every subject.

This “Big Dig” event is hosted by Out Teach (formerly REAL School Gardens), a national nonprofit that coaches and inspires teachers to unlock student performance with the power of outdoor experiential learning.  The Charlotte Hornets Foundation and Novant Health have stepped forward to provide both funding and the volunteers for the project.

lebanon-road-designOutdoor experiential learning deepens students’ understanding of key concepts, sparks children’s curiosity, and gets them excited about learning.  This new Outdoor Learning Lab matches up with two of the Charlotte Hornets Foundation’s four pillars for community outreach – education and wellness.  The new Outdoor Learning Lab will contain dozens of curriculum-aligned features that will give students hands-on real-world activities to get them more engaged in their Science, Math, and Literacy lessons while also boosting their health and well-being.

Novant Health Mint Hill Medical Center, the health system’s 15th hospital, will open its doors on Oct. 1 just a few miles down the street from the school. Team members from the new hospital are excited to lend a hand in creating this community’s Outdoor Learning Lab.

“Both education and environment are key priorities for Novant Health, and this project blends the two together beautifully,” said Joy Greear, president and chief operating officer of Novant Health Mint Hill Medical Center. “We see this as a long-term community partnership, and look forward to building relationships with the teachers, students and families at Lebanon Road Elementary.”

Where:              Lebanon Road Elementary School
7300 Lebanon Rd, Charlotte, NC 28227

When:               Wednesday, September 26 – Opening Ceremony 9:00 AM

The project began with students drawing out the different features they wanted in their Outdoor Learning Lab.  With even more ideas from dozens of parents, teachers, and administrators, the Out Teach team created the final design and volunteer building plan based on the school community’s vision.

By the end of the day, the new Outdoor Learning Lab will be complete with dozens of features that enhance instruction and give students hands-on lessons in every subject.  The finished outdoor classroom will have seating areas, white boards, raised vegetable and flower beds, a weather station, earth science stations, rain barrels, animal and insect habitats and more.

Out Teach will then provide years of training and professional development and coaching to show teachers how to use each different feature to improve instruction and deepen student understanding.  By leading engaging outdoor experiential lessons, teachers will get students excited about school and give them a deep understanding of what they’re learning, building a strong foundation of knowledge on which to grow.


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Out Teach, formerly REAL School Gardens, provides professional development for elementary school teachers. Out Teach prepares them to use school gardens, outdoor classrooms, and green schoolyards to improve instruction through three-dimensional project-based learning, and outdoor experiential inquiry-based education. Professional learning with Out Teach improves hands-on science and STEM education through instructional coaching and digital education resources and improves 21st Century skills.