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Horace Mann Laboratory School students use the outdoor classroom outside Everett Brown Education Hall. The space, which opened in 2018, is now certified as a Nature Explore Classroom. (Northwest Missouri State University photos)

Horace Mann Laboratory School students use the outdoor classroom outside Everett Brown Education Hall. The space, which opened in 2018, is now certified as a Nature Explore Classroom. (Northwest Missouri State University photos)

Dec. 2, 2021

Horace Mann Laboratory School receives national recognition as certified Nature Explore Classroom

By Kourtnie Stenwall, communication assistant


Northwest Missouri State University’s Horace Mann Laboratory School has earned national recognition with the certification of its outdoor classroom by the Nature Explore program.

The certification was awarded to the Horace Mann outdoor classroom, which opened in 2018 and is located north of Everett Brown Education Hall. Laura King, principal of the Horace Mann Laboratory School, said the outdoor classroom is an extension of the classroom where children can use elements in nature to connect to their learning.

“We are very fortunate to have an outdoor classroom with this distinction,” King said. “Horace Mann is proud to have this beautiful space that inspires children to explore through nature and invites curiosity to direct their learning.”

The certification confers on Horace Mann several benefits, including membership in an ever-expanding network of more than 500 like-minded spaces nationwide. Certified Nature Explore Classrooms foster highly effective, nature-based outdoor learning. 

“Horace Mann Laboratory School’s commitment to providing research-based and nature-rich learning offers a wonderful example to programs and educators throughout the country,” Heather Fox, director of communications and outreach for the Nature Explore program, said. “These spaces inspire hands-on activity, creativity, play and plenty of time exploring the natural world for children of all ages.”

Northwest’s Phyllis and Richard Leet Center for Children and Families also received the Nature Explore certification for its outdoor classroom in 2019. The certifications of both outdoor classrooms enhance Northwest’s ability to train aspiring educators and helps emphasize innovative teaching practices.

Unique outdoor classrooms offer interactive, open-ended materials and elements that allow students to use their creativity, imaginations and initiative. Research consistently shows that children who learn and grow in Nature Explore Classrooms exhibit enhanced concentration, develop creativity and problem-solving techniques, manage stress in healthy ways and develop skills across the spectrum of academic and creative learning.

Nature Explore Classrooms, a program sponsored by the Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, are developed by a team of master educators, landscape architects and researchers in response to the documented growing disconnect between children and nature. The classrooms help fill that void by integrating research-based outdoor learning opportunities into children’s daily lives.

About Horace Mann Laboratory School

Horace Mann Laboratory School, located on the Northwest campus within Everett Brown Education Hall, provides a hands-on, project based learning and an individualized approach that is only possible with small class sizes and multiple teachers. Serving children in kindergarten through sixth grade, master teachers provide a unique learning environment for all students that includes technology, innovative best practices and exemplary educational experiences. For more information about Horace Mann, visit www.nwmissouri.edu/horacemann/.


Media contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704