Nature Deficit Disorder? Not my Kids!
From video games and social media, to educational apps and student research, today’s kids are all too often found in front of a screen. They want to play the latest video game, watch a show, browse the web, or post on a friend’s Facebook page. We love these “screens” and ways to communicate, but also worry that kids are losing their connection to the outdoors.
“Nature Deficit Disorder” is the term coined by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, to describe the effects on children who don’t go spend enough time outside engaging in outdoor play, exploration, or learning. This hypothesis suggests a connection between our society’s deteriorating connections with nature and the rise of health and mental problems, including attention disorders, obesity, and depression. Only in recent decades has our close physical, mental, and spiritual relationship with the outdoors faded and now scientific research is showing that missing this outdoor play may have such physical, emotional, and intellectual repercussions.
As more and more classrooms make use of crafty in-class technologies such as SMART Boards, virtual field trips on computers, tablets, and other high tech tools, we must make a conscious effort to remember the value of hands-on, outdoor, face-to-face activities. Getting kids outside, having them interact with one another and their environment, making observations and doing things with their hands can provide a full five-sense experience. What’s more engaging than a learning experience that gets you to use your sight (observation), hearing (listening), touch, sense of smell, and sometimes even your taste buds?
One of the central goals of BirdSleuth is to provide children with these sorts of immersive learning experiences, as well as to help them to develop a connection to their local environment and nature as a whole. We believe that nature is a teaching resource that educators should strive to utilize to the fullest extent, and that birds are an excellent window into exploration and investigation of the natural world. They’re interesting, fun to watch, and easy to find no matter where you live.
The outdoor setting sparks creativity, and once outside, there is an endless array of inquiry experiences you can help create. Simply being outside can drastically change students’ mindsets and foster inquiry about the world around them. From our Investigating Evidence download that helps kids become scientists, to kits and resources that get kids outside, BirdSleuth provides resources and training to help you combat “Nature Deficit Disorder” in the kids you reach!
Going further for educators:
- Our new self-paced course, Integrating Inquiry for Educators: Developing Student Science Practices, is designed to help educators explore the process of inquiry and scientific investigation, especially as inspired by outdoor observations and citizen-science participation.