The vision of the Natural Science Academy is to develop a “green” school where the facility, operations, and educational program reflect a commitment to environmental sustainability and to preparing our young citizens to become leaders and models of exemplary, responsible citizenship, and stewards of the natural environment.
Education & the Environment
Why Go Outside?
Education research (1) shows that when the natural and cultural environment is s focus for experiential learning in school, wonderful things happen.
Better scores on standardized tests.
Increased enthusiasm for learning
Greater pride in accomplishments.
Fewer discipline problems.
(1) Closing the Acheivement Gap 1998, G. Lieberman and L. Hoody
What Parents Are Saying About NSA
“The curriculum at NSA gives exactly what we want for our children, an education that will not only allow them to be an American but one that will allow them to thrive in an increasingly multicultural country and world.”
“NSA has given our children countless opportunities to be truly engaged in their learning. Because of the small class sizes, they are given one on one and small group instruction without fail on a day-to-day basis. The small class numbers have also afforded them numerous opportunities to go on field trips all over the metro area to experience museums and unique events, as well as close by to observe birds, bugs, and plants all in their natural habitats.”
“NSA teachers create a community within their classrooms that give each and every child the chance to learn, be part of a team, and hone their individual skills. Success is naturally built into each school day. We feel extremely fortunate to have found and be a part of NSA!”
“From the time our family discovered NSA, we have been thrilled with the well-rounded education our children have received. We need schools like NSA that don’t feel it is enough to hand a child a textbook but instead realize that it is vital to teach them to think outside the box.”
“NSA fills a space within our community – offering many of the benfits of a small private program combined with the accountability and guidelines of a public institution.”
“In the last 2 years we have seen our daughter grow in her self-esteem, love for learning, leadership and so much more. She wakes up every morning eager to attend school. We know the skills she has accquired at NSA will take her far.”
The Natural Science Academy provides innovative, inquiry-based and place-based learning opportunities for K-5 students utilizing the unique environmental assets of the area and a variety of community partnerships. With support from Minnesota’s Audubon Center of the North Woods, NSA promotes academic achievement in the areas of science, math, technology, literacy, and the arts and will develop students’ social responsibility through experiential education, interdisciplinary environmental studies, and inquiry-based learning projects. NSA strives to develop the capacity in all students for working cooperatively with others, for empathy and compassion, for thinking critically and creatively, and for becoming adept learners, community leaders, independent thinkers, and lifelong environmental stewards.
Purpose And Need
Today’s students typically have little exposure to the natural world. Traditional public and private schools offer occasional field trips to the outdoors, but occasional outings are not enough for students to develop knowledge and an understanding of the natural world around them and a desire to preserve its integrity. In order for children to learn to care about the future of our environment, of our world, we must care enough about them to provide them with regular and frequent educational experiences in natural settings. They must be inspired and impelled through experiences in the outdoors to learn about natural systems, about the interconnectedness and interdependence of all living and nonliving things. Young students must be nurtured to develop strong identities within their immediate community in order for them to blossom into the leaders of tomorrow and caring stewards of our natural environment.
Dr. Michael Frome, renowned conservationist, author, and environmental educator, for whom our school was originally named, has written this about education: “Education, with only a few exceptions, is about careers, jobs, success in a materialistic world, elitism, rather than caring and sharing; it’s about facts and figures, cognitive values, rather than feeling and art derived from the heart and soul; it’s about conformity, being safe in a structured society, rather than individualism, the ability to question society and to constructively influence change in direction. A change in direction is critical and imperative. Our most precious gift to the future, if you will ask me, is a point of view embodied in the protection of wild places that no longer can protect themselves.” (From the International Journal of Wilderness, August 2001: V.7 No.2.)
Many of today’s schools fail to recognize the importance of developing a student’s authentic attachment to their community, both human and natural. Embracing the philosophy of place-based education, we believe that elementary students often lose their “sense of place” through curriculum and instruction that focuses too quickly or intensely on national or global issues. At NSA children will develop a strong sense of place through daily educational experiences that take them out into their immediate community, outside of traditional classrooms and school buildings, and into their neighborhoods and the natural world around them. We believe that one of the most effective ways to shape the leadership skills in our citizens of tomorrow is to provide opportunities for young children to explore, connect with, and learn to understand and appreciate their community through experiences in natural settings.
The purpose of the Natural Science Academy is to prepare our young citizens to become leaders and models of exemplary, responsible citizenship and stewards of the natural environment and in doing so, foster academic achievement in the areas of science, math, technology, literacy, and the arts.
What are the unique characteristics of this school?
NSA is innovative in its utilization of integrated-interdisciplinary, inquiry-based environmental studies, community partnerships, and place-based learning.
Using Environment as an Integrating Context for learning (EIC) instructional methods and techniques, NSA utilizes the school’s facility, surroundings, the community, and the natural environment as a framework and classroom for instruction.
Another unique characteristic of NSA is its emphasis on visual arts, creative writing, poetry, and drama, woven throughout the curriculum. Classroom teachers are assisted in the development of fine arts projects with assistance from community artists and specialists.
The school is innovative in its teaching of movement education and lifelong fitness through both indoor and outdoor experiential pursuits facilitated in natural settings.