Cowan Nature Center
Cowan Nature Center General Information
Imagine a place where a child's mind is inspired not only by books but by the sights and sounds of nature...where the walls of a classroom reflect an endless sky of possibilities and the excitement of learning captivates young minds.
Imagine the Cowan Nature Center... where learning comes to life!
Nestled in the canyon bluffs behind Cowan Avenue Elementary School in Westchester lies an acre of land that is being transformed into an outdoor nature center for our students and local community. The Cowan Nature Center is a community project to restore this land and create a beautiful, environmentally friendly, educational outdoor haven for all to enjoy.
Once completed the Cowan Nature Center will offer many opportunities for enriched learning and fun inspired by the environment. A children's reading garden, nature trail and specially themed community gardens for each grade level are all a part of our mission to help "bring learning to life".
Our nature center also will provide a rich setting for special environmental workshops and after–school programs, extending its reach to partnering schools and community groups.The Cowan Nature Center offers the opportunity to improve our public lands and experience and enjoy nature in the midst of our own neighborhood. With a distant view of the Marina, it is the perfect setting for community:
- Nature tours and field trips
- Volunteer gardening opportunities
- Workshops, performances and group gatherings
One of the greatest benefits of outdoor learning is that it helps transform students into active learners, engaging them in the process and promoting stronger observation, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. It also fosters teamwork and collaboration and extends the learning experience to a whole new dynamic environment, all of which leads to:
- Greater subject interest and higher learning retention
- Increased tests scores and academic performance
- Reduced discipline and class management problems
- Improved teacher morale
- Promotion of environmental consciousness and responsibility
For more information on the benefits of Outdoor Classrooms, check out www.outdoorclassroom.org
In addition to teaching the California Science Standards, the Cowan Nature Center also can serve as a backdrop for learning a variety of subjects—including, math, music, writing and drama in a fun, hands-on way.
For example, the simple act of planting a sunflower bed can inspire a series of cross-curriculum learning opportunities. The concepts of natural science (learning how a plant grows), math (problem solving and estimation: how many seeds to plant in a given area), ecology (observing the various species of birds who feast on the seeds) all come together and bring learning to life.
The Future of Education
Environmental education is also the future of California. With the recent passage of AB1548 (signed on October 2, 2003), the state is taking its first big step towards incorporating environmental learning into the California Education Standards. To learn more about important legislation, visit the Heal the Bay web site.
Thank you to our many sponsors who have helped turned this dream of the Cowan Nature Center into a not–so–distant reality. The beauty of this center comes as much from the spirit and hearts of those who help create it as it does from the physical beauty of the nature that surrounds it.
Check the Cowan Calendar for event dates and times.