Getting Students Unplugged and Outside

Today’s students are often found staring at screens. The CDC reports: the average 11 to 14 year old spends 8 hours a day behind a screen.  While students spend 90% of time inside, their time outside is limited. Richard Louv, author of “The Last Child in the Woods,” reports the amount of unstructured time children spend outside is 30 minutes per week.  

During the past two decades:

  • Obesity rates have doubled
  • Creativity, concentration and social skills have declined
  • Children who say they love reading books for fun has dropped almost 10% in the last four years.

The good news is that being outside:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • May help with ADHD symptoms
  • Can reduce anxiety and help with depression
  • Lets students recover from stress more quickly
  • Makes children more physically active, more creative in their play, less aggressive and show better concentration
Middle School Students use observation and drawing skills in an outdoor science class.

Middle School Students use observation and drawing skills in an outdoor science class.


Mary Ann Boyer and Kristin Kaye of Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants presented "Science and Storytelling: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Environmental Literacy" at the NSTA’s conference in Baltimore earlier this month. Boyer and Kaye shared their experiences on how scientific observation and storytelling open students’ eyes to the natural world.

Boyer, a former science teacher, shared how to make a science journal out of two sheets of paper to produce an accordian type of book. She shared examples of students’ work journaling, recording, observing, and drawing outside while outside for science class. Author Kristin Kaye shared her book: “Tree Dreams: A Field Guide” where students “tag” trees with meaningful messages. For more information or to see examples of students’ work, contact

Article submitted by Samuel York, a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, currently working as an intern with Boyer Sudduth. Published in the PAISBOA Friday Flyer Vol. XIX, October 20, 2017.