A large majority of children today grow up with little or no direct experience of nature, a disconnection that poses serious problems in the intellectual, social, physical, and psychological development of these children. This widespread disconnect from nature has been coined as “nature deficit disorder”.
The over-riding goal of the Nature Education Department is to reconnect both children and adults to the natural world. The Museum offers a variety of program and exhibits to support this movement, which include:
· Outdoor Nature Exploration (ONE) school programs for grades Kindergarten through 5th grade. Students explore and closely observe the various habitats along Mission Creek where science comes to life, right in the Museum's own Backyard.
To learn more about ONE and other school program offerings, please check out the School and Teacher Services webpage.
· Family Nature Days: The Museum offers free admission on the 3rd Sunday of each month between September through May (does not include June through August). This includes all-day access to the Backyard and Nature Club House.
The Curiosity Lab is an interactive space for guests to ask questions to a live naturalist, bring in specimens, and connect the natural world to the Museum. The space is consistently changing with new activities and programming, and is run by a staff of naturalists.
Visit the Curiosity Lab webpage for Curiosity Lab updates and activities.
The Museum Backyard
The Museum Backyard consists of enhanced areas of the riparian woodland along Mission Creek as a space for exploratory introduction to aspects of nature either through unstructured play or through structured educational activities.
Over the years, the Museum Backyard has become a popular place for people of all ages to experience a sense of wonder and curiosity through investigation and play in a natural setting.
The Nature Club House
The Nature Club House was opened in The Museum Backyard to further promote the exploration and understanding of nature. The Club House features natural objects and live insects and other small critters of Santa Barbara and beyond as a means of introducing visitors to the natural world around them.
Open hours change weekly for the Club House based on staff and volunteer availability. Please check the Backyard webpage for more information on open hours.
Nature Collection Specimen Lending Library
The Nature Collection is an educational specimen and materials loan service that offers a wide array of resource materials for the public and educators to use in their classrooms. To learn more and discover membership options, head to the Nature Collection Specimen Lending Library homepage.
Leave No Child Inside: Santa Barbara & Children and Nature Network
The Museum is a part of Leave No Child Inside: Santa Barbara a collaboration of organizations and individuals building a movement to reconnect our kids to nature.
The goal of Leave No Child Inside: Santa Barbara is to reverse the societal trend of the past three decades in which children and youth have become disconnected from direct experience in the outdoors in their everyday lives.
The regional collaborative is part of the larger national Children & Nature Network started by Richard Louv. The Museum is proud to represent our region at the annual Children and Nature Network conference.
To find out more about the Leave No Child Inside: Santa Barbara movement as well as activities and resources for nature exploration in the region, visit www.santabarbarawild.org
To find out more about the Children & Nature Network, visit www.childrenandnature.org
For resources to start your own Family Nature Club, click here