Belwin Outdoor Science - "Learning Inspired Through Nature"
Our mission at Belwin Outdoor Science is, "To connect children to nature through engaging outdoor science experiences." We are part of the science program in Saint Paul Public Schools. We serve over 10,000 SPPS students every year in single-day, science-focused field investigations. This includes every 3rd and 5th grade student in SPPS, about 1,000 middle and high school students and about 1,800 special education students. All SPPS teachers, however, are invited to request additional visits during our open dates.
The classes offered depend on the season of students' visit. Every 5th grade class addresses science benchmark 220.127.116.11.1, regarding plant and animal structures and how they function to help the organism survive and reproduce in a given habitat. 3rd grade and high school lessons address a variety of science benchmarks allowing the teacher to select the lessons that best supports his or her students' classroom learning.
Belwin Outdoor Science was established by a cooperative agreement between the Belwin Conservancy and the Saint Paul Public Schools District in 1971. The agreement calls for the Belwin Conservancy to provide facilities on th 225 acres that are dedicated to this program and the maintenance of those facilities. At the same time, the St. Paul Public Schools provide the education staff and transportation for the students to the facility. Other districts may participate in the program when invited by the St. Paul Public School District.
The facilities are made up of a 5,000 square foot main classroom building, an additional classroom that serves as the hub for our special education programs, the Casby Observatory (managed by the Minnesota Astronomical Society), 8 miles of trails through a terrain of a prairie, oak savannas, pine forests, oak forests, ponds, a marsh, and a stream. Approximately a half mile of this is hard surfaced specifically to allow ease of access by wheelchairs. Since 1971 over 500,000 students have visited Belwin Outdoor Science.