Active in both St. Louis and Chicago, Gateway to the Great Outdoors (GGO), a 501(c)-3 organization, continues to fulfill its mission of providing environmental education to students while COVID-19 has forced schools to temporarily close.

While most schools have moved to online learning, 90 to 100 percent of GGO students are part of the Free-and-Reduced Lunch program, indicating that students may not have the resources necessary to participate in online learning.  

GGO plans to mitigate this accessibility gap by providing free educational S.T.E.A.M. kits consisting of urban agriculture, chemical and matter alteration, and art in nature lesson plans for students in grades 1 to 8 to try at home.

These kits will allow students to continue their scientific curiosity, internal exploration, and nature appreciation regardless of access to technology. Research has shown that nature can improve one’s mental and physical health during stressful times like the present. 

Lesson plans, all adapted from GGO’s traditional curriculum include: 

  1. Planting Lettuce Seeds: providing valuable lessons on photosynthesis, plant biology, and healthy eating. 
  2. Creating Slime: Teaching students about slime mold and providing an activity to play with slime is a form of stress relief. 
  3. Leaf Rubbings: Children will collect leaves from different plants and make leaf rubbings. They observe shapes, structures and patters from the leaves and them sort them according similarities.