The push to “leave no child inside” is on current political agendas across the nation. It’s in all the newspapers and bookstores, all over the internet—the idea of getting young people off the couch, away from TVs and computers, and into the outdoors. It’s what Keystone Science School has been doing for 33 years. Only, we hope not only to get folks outdoors, but also to provide them with critical thinking skills and leadership tools needed to navigate inside board rooms and meeting halls, through challenges in the workplace and heated debates between friends. We use the outdoors as the classroom and the framework to help kids learn about both science and themselves.
We operate Keystone Science School on our 23-acre campus in Keystone. Now, we’re taking it to The Summit Daily with this new monthly column. We hope to serve as a resource for families, a guide for youth, and a thought-provoker for readers. Here’s a little more about us:
In 1975, longtime local Bob Craig founded The Keystone Center as a forum for mediation on contentious scientific policy issues, and started bringing thought leaders and decision-makers from industry, government, and the non-profit community together in Keystone to sit down and work toward solutions together, face to face, without lawyers (he actually took them up on chairlifts – no escaping conversation there). These meetings often resulted in concrete action on tough issues, and Craig began to think about what sort of impact might be made by starting from the ground up, teaching these skills to young people. Kids who grew up with strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills might be better able to solve controversial issues as they matured into adults and policy leaders – and even head those issues off before they became divisive. In 1976, he established Keystone Science School as part of The Keystone Center. Since then, more than 80,000 students have engaged in hands-on activities that encourage them to take a hands-on approach to science, to ask questions, and find their own answers. We’ve pushed them to think differently, broaden their perspectives, and become empowered to affect change in ways that are meaningful to them.
Each month, we’ll take the principles that guide us at the Science School and extend them to you, our community. We’ll bring science to life, focusing on such themes as astronomy, snow science, wildlife, youth development, and just plain getting outdoors to learn. We’ll incorporate ideas for engaging young people in critical thinking and problem-solving in ways that are interesting, relevant to your lives, and fun.
Our trained and experienced staff will collaborate on each month’s topic. We’re lucky to have incredible instructors with a wide range of experiences, all with backgrounds in science and a passion for innovative education. Some of us are experienced teachers, both in and out of the classroom, some have worked at camps most of their lives, and still others are parents who know firsthand what it’s like to be stuck in the house during a winter storm with two children. All of us are fervent believers that the best way to learn is to do.
We invite you to be an active participant in this column by sharing ideas or asking questions about topics relating to science, adventure and fun. If there’s something you’d like to know more about – mountain ecosystems; mining history; how to track local wildlife; or anything else you can dream up – let us know. We look forward to exploring and learning with you.
Ellen Reid is the Director of Keystone Science School. She can be reached at email@example.com.