BSI Inspires National Curriculum to Take Science Outdoors
(March 5, 2013) -

Teachers across the country using the latest edition of the FOSS science curriculum will notice an exciting new feature: Taking FOSS Outdoors. This new component, which got its start with Boston Public School teachers, extends classroom learning into the schoolyard to bring science concepts to life. The FOSS curriculum is used by K-8 schools in Boston.

The inspiration for Taking FOSS Outdoors began with the Boston Schoolyard Initiative and the BPS Science Department. In 2006, BSI began developing Science in the Schoolyard guides to complement the FOSS science curriculum.  These guides, which were piloted by sixteen BPS science teachers, provide step-by-step information on when and how to take students outside for each of the units taught in Boston. The guides also provide activities that teachers and out-of-school time staff can use to integrate science into their teaching. Happily, the creators of FOSS decided to further develop the guides and fully embed outdoor learning into the new third edition. "The integration of outdoor investigations into FOSS' new edition is a testament to the hard and pioneering work of the BPS Science Department, BPS teachers, and BSI," said Myrna Johnson, Executive Director of the Boston Schoolyard Initiative.  "I offer deep thanks to the current and past leadership at the BPS Science Department, the sixteen teachers who piloted the BSI Science in the Schoolyard guides, and the BSI education team for this meaningful and innovative body of work."

“Going outside is now part of the FOSS program as a direct result of the groundbreaking work by BPS educators,” says Erica Beck Spencer, FOSS Curriculum Developer.  “The entire FOSS staff has embraced this new initiative and we appreciate the Boston educators who laid the foundation for it.  By inspiring teachers throughout the country to take students outdoors, we have the potential to help millions of children form a stronger bond with the natural world. ”

So what will these outdoor investigations look like? In the “Energy and Electromagnetism” unit, following the indoor part when students discover how to run a motor with a D-cell they’ll go outside with a motor and a solar cell.  In “Soils, Rocks, and Landforms,” students will go to the schoolyard to pour water on various slopes and to search for signs of erosion and deposition. In “Animals 2 by 2,” students will compare two schoolyard birds. For a program that is used in thousands of schools across the country, it is very exciting to imagine students across the country taking their learning outdoors! 

Special thanks to the teachers who piloted the Science in the Schoolyard Guides: Dean Martin, Eric Meuse, Erin Flynn, Erin Hashimoto, Erin Rua, Jewell Royster-Bratton, Jose Rosa, Judean Patten-Clark, Kate King, Mark Walter, Michelle Teleau, Nancy Mullane, Patricia Smith, Rose Reeves Harris, Sarah Trantino, and Teresa Strong.

And thanks to Marilyn Decker, Bev Nadeau, Pam Pelletier, and Meg Watson, from the BPS Science Department who supported the Taking Science Outside professional development and the Science in the Schoolyard Guides project from the beginning.  

The 12 BSI Science in the Schoolyard Guides are available on BSI’s website and at 

 The Taking FOSS Outdoors chapter may be viewed at