BEETLES (Better Environmental Education, Teaching, Learning & Expertise Sharing) is devoted to creating:
- versatile environmental education professional learning materials;
- student activities for use in the field;
- a collaborative, resource-sharing network of environmental educators;
- "how-to" videos; and
- additional support for field instructors, leaders, and classroom teachers.
All BEETLES resources are based on current research and understandings about how people learn, and tested by dozens of programs in diverse settings all over the country (and beyond!). Although BEETLES materials have been designed for residential outdoor science schools, they’ve been snatched up and used successfully in a wide variety of outdoor science education settings.
BEETLES has the following beliefs, ideas, and values:
- Outdoor science programs are powerful, often transformative experiences for students.
- There is potential to increase the quality and impact of outdoor science education.
- Everyone–especially kids–can and should build meaningful relationships with nature.
- By “thinking like a scientist,” students are empowered to use tools and practices of science to explore, wonder, and think about nature wherever there’s a patch of green in their world.
- Outdoor science instructors and program leaders deserve resources designed specifically for the work they do.
- Program leaders need research-based support and tools to provide vital and effective professional learning for their staff.
- Through careful reflection and deliberate practice, field instructors can continuously develop their teaching skills and become masterful educators.
BEETLES has resources for three primary audiences: outdoor science program leaders, field instructors, and teachers interested in supporting outdoor science experiences in their classrooms. The professional learning resources are designed for program leaders to use with field instructors. They provide experiences and rationale about outdoor science instruction designed to inspire instructors to improve their teaching. The student activities inspire students’ wonder and curiosity about the natural world, support their innate tendencies for exploration, and guide them to make explanations based on evidence. Finally, the classroom resources connect outdoor field experiences to indoor learning to ensure that time spend outdoors does not feel like an isolated event. All resources are free to download and use.
BEETLES is one of many programs at the Lawrence Hall of Science (the Hall), a public science center created in 1968 as part of the University of California at Berkeley. The mission of the Hall is to inspire and foster learning of science and mathematics for all, especially those who have limited access to science. The Hall is a science education “think tank” that specializes in taking the latest research in science education and translating it into practical and well-tested materials for educators.