Journeys to the Sierra Nevada: Benefits of Research for Youth Outdoor STEM Education | Undergraduate Research


Project title

Benefits of Research for Youth Outdoor STEM Education

Research question

What are the compelling overall benefits of outdoor STEM education for elementary and middle school youth?
We want to create a resource of scholarly research results to integrate into grant proposals, partner communications, and curriculum on the following issues:

  • How has the mental health of students and young people been affected by the COVID pandemic and how has outdoor (natural world) education helped them?
  • What is the impact on students’ social-emotional learning (SEL) of the availability of outdoor education for young people?
  • How has outdoor STEM education led to academic success and helped meet National and Federal Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)?
  • What are the most effective approaches to developing and delivering culturally relevant outdoor science education programs?


Sierra Nevada Journeys (SNJ) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide innovative outdoor science education programs for youth to develop critical thinking skills and inspire the management of natural resources. We have credentialed science teachers who deliver our Classrooms Unleashed program for grades 1-6, teach in the classroom, and lead day-long science field expeditions in the Reno and Sacramento areas. Additionally, we recently purchased the 515-acre Grizzly Creek Ranch camp in Portola, California, where fifth and sixth graders attend our outdoor school program called Overnight Outdoor Learning. We also host family STEM nights at local schools to engage families and reinforce our classroom concepts. Over 50% of the students we serve are from low-income families and 61% are students of color.


  • Attend one of our local Classrooms Unleashed programs or take a trip to Grizzly Creek Ranch (about an hour away) to watch our programs in real time to get a sense of the interactions between our educators and students.
  • Present a white paper detailing quotes, articles and links that can be used to answer the questions above, in particular, how outdoor science education not only benefits our young people, but is crucial to filling the gaps academic regression caused by the COVID pandemic.
  • Create a social media blog post for our website showcasing the benefits of outdoor education for young people using the information found during the search.

Agency representative

Joan Grover

[email protected]

(775) 355-1688


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