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Open Space Visitor Center Featured Article


How to Build Discovery into a Place: the Open Space Visitor Center

This marvelous space creates opportunities to understand the value of integrating protected natural environments with urban development.  As we toured the building and surrounding landscapes, we were excited to see how much care and attention had been put into designing the space as a place to learn and discover lasting connections. 

Read the complete story below.

ABQ Workshops and Events


Bosque Wild: Guided Nature Walk- Sunday June 3

Do you know about another workshop or teaching-driven event around ABQ or NM?  Contact us and we'll link to it.

Success at Sprout


ABQ Sprout 2 raised $2622 to fund 4 projects in Albuquerque, and 2 of them were directly related to education and workshops!  See Yourself Teaching is a proud sponsor of ABQ Sprout.

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  • Scott Young loves to learn strange things... and he uses strangeness to test the value of his learning.



How to Build Discovery into a Place:
Open Space Visitor Center

Open Space Visitor Center
 

How can teachers deliberately design spaces that facilitate learning? What are the differences between a classroom and any other space?

We recently visited the Open Space Visitor Center on the west side of Albuquerque.  This marvelous space creates opportunities to understand the value of integrating protected natural environments with urban development.  As we toured the building and surrounding landscapes, we were excited to see how much care and attention had been put into designing the space as a place to learn and make connections. 

Here are photos and comments about some of the impressive features we saw.  While you look and read, think about how each might help visitors construct their own understandings of nature and urban life. 

Share this article with your friends and collegues: http://bit.ly/SYT-OpenSpace

Identification Tile - New Mexico Olive Plant

A ceramic tile artfully identifies a nearby New Mexico Olive plant in a courtyard garden. The drawing clearly shows the mature leaves and fruits of the plant. The tile also uses language: the plant's common name in English and its species name forestiera neomexica. The installation is permanent and can withstand weather of all seasons. Other identification tiles were present near Purple Coneflowers and Maxamillian Sunflowers.

Identification Tile - New Mexico Olive Plant

Attribution Tile

The Open Space attributes a special effort to Margy O'Brien and the Open Space Alliance for creating the plant identification tiles. The tile is placed next to the door leading into the gardens where their can help identify plants.

Plant Identification Tiles By Margy O'Brien

Take One - Composting Pamphlet

A set of pamphlets with the sign "Take One" is promenantly displayed near a site filled with composting materials. The pamphlets show how composting works to benefit plant growth. Instructions are given on how to create and maintain a compost pile at home. The word "compost" is displayed on many signs near plants around the garden.

Take One - Compost Pamphlet

Veggie Grower

This contained garden has a net that protects lush varieties of vegetables growing inside. The plants can be seen through the net at child height, or by adults crouching down. The small green sign at knee-level reads "www.veggiegrower.net."  The container is made from wood and some PVC pipe.

Veggie Grower

Restricting Sign - Wildlife Area

A small yellow sign attached to a restrictive gate reads "Wildlife Area." It describes how the space beyond encourage natural life: the space will host crops that feed the local wildlife, as well as provide nesting grounds for birds and animals. Linda notes that the sign uses affirmative language to show what the space is before restricting against human entry.

The sign is placed at waist-height to adults, and near chest-height for children.

Restrictive Sign - Wildlife Area

Art Installation - Arbol de la Vida

A sculpture presents animals carved into a tall tree trunk. Many species are represented, including cranes, beavers, fish, and insects. Burned into the side are the words "ARBOL DE LA VIDA," meaning "tree of life." The scupture is set within view of a protected wildlife site that sits near the bosque forest by the river.

Art Installation - Arbol de la Vida

Cobblestone Garden

A garden patch in a courtyard, constructed in a tac-tac-toe field with stones and mulch. The sign identifies the garden as a cobblestone garden, and reads, "This mulch moderates soil temperature and reduces water loss through evaporation."

This is one example of a garden type on the site. Other present garden patches with their own construction and cultivation methods were: Spanish, Waffle, Hunter-Gatherer, and Arroyo Terrace.

Cobblestone Garden

Technology Space - Media Room

A low-lit space with a large screen display and room for 8-12 people to sit comfortably. The space is sequestered off a hallway peripheral to a few exhibits. The walls are bare, focusing attention to the front. A small table bearing a sign marked "Media Room" holds a pair of remote controls and a list of available short videos on Open Space topics. The remotes are labeled with brief instructions on how to turn on and select a video.

Technology Space - Media Room

Thoughts to Pursue


As teachers, we also considered how the exhibits exemplify (or might be improved by) high quality teaching standards such as:
  • Lessons use a variety of instructional strategies.
  • Teachers recognize and endorse other teachers in the community.
  • Teachers create coursework based on personal or uncommon experiences.
  • Teachers open ways for students to independently discover sources of class materials.
  • Teachers discern the Big Idea that unifies essential material.

The Open Space is designed to create opportunities to construct understandings.  How does this differ from a classroom?  What might be missing from a complete learning experience from a teaching point of view?  What does this exterior space do easily that would be hard to do within a more interior space?


Share this article with your friends and collegues: http://bit.ly/SYT-OpenSpace


 

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