The Edge

Outdoor Learning and Place-Based Education

June 01, 2023 ISTE Season 2 Episode 4
Outdoor Learning and Place-Based Education
The Edge
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The Edge
Outdoor Learning and Place-Based Education
Jun 01, 2023 Season 2 Episode 4

In this episode, we talk with ISTE Community Leader Laura Thomas and her guest, Dr. Paul Bocko, about the potential of outdoor learning and the power of place-based education. Both share concrete examples of what teachers can do to begin to leverage outdoor learning.

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we talk with ISTE Community Leader Laura Thomas and her guest, Dr. Paul Bocko, about the potential of outdoor learning and the power of place-based education. Both share concrete examples of what teachers can do to begin to leverage outdoor learning.

ISTE Community Leaders Podcast - Outdoor Ed & Equity

Georgia Terlaje: [00:00:00] it's Time for the Edge, a podcast from I community leaders. If you are an educator, administrator, or anyone in the field of education, this podcast is for you. Over the next few episodes, you will hear stories of people who are doing the rewarding and at times hard work and education.

And these stories will be brought to you by STI Community Leaders. Coming up today, we've got some great guests on the show who will discuss equity and outdoor learning. I'm one of your community leader hosts Georgia. I'm a TK five instructional coach and an educator for 34 years, and I'm here with my partner in crime, Jessica.

Jessica Pack: Thanks, Georgia. I am Jessica Pack, a middle school teacher and Isti author. I'm really excited for today's episode because we are going to deep dive with some special guests about equity and outdoor learning. Today we're joined by our fellow Isti community leader, Laura Thomas. Laura is a [00:01:00] professor at Antioch University, new England, where she coordinates the integration of steam education as well as the experienced educators program.

Laura, thank you so much for being here today. 

Laura Thomas: Thank you for having me. , I am actually gonna introduce, , my colleague, Paul Bako, , who, , has been working with me at Antioch since 2016 officially, but I think he actually goes back farther than that. , with the institution. , and Paul has a deep background in outdoor learning as well as in public education.

, and has worked in a variety of different settings, , with regular classrooms, , in all kinds of grades. And also, , With folks who are trying to figure out how to get kids outside, how to get all kids outside. , and, , he's just, he's brilliant and he's also the person I'm typically not allowed to sit next to at meetings.

So, , this should be fun. Well, we [00:02:00] welcome 

Georgia Terlaje: you to the Edge, Dr. Bako. , and Laura, we're so excited to have you. , So you're in the Northeast, I believe. Is it cold? 

Dr. Paul Bocko: It is. Well, not as cold as it was a few days ago. , it was about 18 degrees now it's about 40. It's bombing, so, yeah. Nice. 

Georgia Terlaje: We've had some crazy weather in southern California.

, we've got like mountain towns that are under 12 feet of snow and they can't, you know, get out and, and here like one day it. 40 and the next day's 75. So we don't know, we just have all of the clothes in the car just in case, you know, we need to, 

Laura Thomas: , be warm or 

Georgia Terlaje: hot or cold or whatever. , Laura, could you share a little bit about how you and Dr.

Bako connected? Like, what's your origin story? 

Dr. Paul Bocko: Hmm. 

Laura Thomas: , so Paul and I started working together when I was the director of the Center for School Renewal. , Paul was working for, , what was then called Antioch, new England Institute, which was, , the service division of our environmental studies [00:03:00] department.

Mm-hmm. , at the time. And he was doing some great work around, , School change and environmental education with a, with a pro project called coed. , and I cannot remember what all those letters stand for. , but doing work around creating outdoor learning, , environments in public parks, in in public settings, , and.

Making the outdoors accessible to folks, , who might not otherwise think, oh yeah, that's a place for me. , and I was really impressed and I wanted to learn more. And then I needed a co-facilitator for some things and Paul said yes, which he probably at the time regretted. But now we have a great time together.

He's my favorite co-facilitator. , and so. , so yeah, and then over the years we just kept finding different, , places where our work intersected. , we both are critical skills master teachers, , which is the, , pedagogical approach, one of the pedagogical approaches we use at Antioch. , we are both, , , professional learning communities, coaches were both [00:04:00] certified through the school reform initiative.

So we did all of that work together. , we've just, over the years, had a lot of great opportunities to teach together, , and to do professional development experiences for teachers in schools. So, , I was really happy when I decided to leave the Center for School Renewal and move into this role directing the experienced educators program that Paul was willing to step into that job.

, cuz it's a big job and, , he's just done an amazing job of taking care of that organization and continuing it to push it forward into some new and exciting ways, particularly around, , the field of. Place-based education and, , outdoor ed and climate change ed. Like, he's just got some really exciting work that he's doing, , and has continued to grow, , in the year since he took the program over.

So he's pretty awesome. It was. Well, Dr. Baco, 

Jessica Pack: , could you tell us a little bit about what ignited your passion for outdoor ed and for place-based education? 

Dr. Paul Bocko: Well, I won't go [00:05:00] back to my, my birth story, but, , we won't go back that far. But, , I will go back to after undergrad. I was, I was gearing up to actually come to Antioch to the, got my first degree from my master's degree from the environmental studies department.

And I was on a hike and I was like, what am I gonna do with my life? And I was really enjoying being outside. So I said I want to do something that will, you know, engage other people in, in this joy and happiness and exploration and sometimes getting skin, knees and getting tired. But, , that's what I wanted to do.

I didn't know where it would end up. I definitely did not think it would end up in public schools. , I thought I'd be working at nature centers and such, and that's actually where I started. But the, Conservation Education organization I worked for, , did outreach into public schools. So, , at a rather green and young age, I was, , standing before [00:06:00] children and their teacher teaching about things that, , I didn't totally know about, but I had some experience with, but learned very quickly that, , you know, learning with the students is the way to go.

And it was, it was natural science where I started. And , that's a bit of the story. There's more, , but , that's a bit of the story. So just being outside, being out. On my own really, you know, established that connection so 

Georgia Terlaje: well that's so impactful for kids. , I've had that experience. I taught fifth grade for a very long time and we, we would go to science camp for five days up in the mountains and watching kids that have really not had that experience before, not only being away from home, but learning out in nature.

, that was brilliant to watch because you could just, See how their ideas changed and were shaped and the passions that were ignited doing that kind of work. So I think that's very important 

Dr. Paul Bocko: work. Yeah, and you know, you just reminded me it's a little indirect, but [00:07:00] there's a, there's a kindergarten teacher here in Keen New Hampshire who is a Antioch grad now that I don't think I taught her in those elementary years, but I know she participated in that teacher naturalist work with someone else.

She's ended up. You know, there are lots of variables in her life that impacted her, but she's ended up being a kindergarten teacher who takes her kids out every week into the nearby patch of Woods. , she is now teaching for us. , when she was in high school, I did work with her directly. She wrote sense of place articles for, , the, the local newspaper, the Keen Sentinel, , you know, You don't often as a teacher, you, we probably all think about this at times.

You don't often as a teacher, get to sort of see a trajectory and I was not there at every step for her. But, , it's such a nice, you know, that origin story I had. But then somewhat that's connected to her ending up at Antioch and now [00:08:00] teaching for us. But more importantly, working with, you know, her, her children, her kindergarten kids, and they're out every day.

, and just doing important work and being busy out in the woods. That's, 

Georgia Terlaje: that's so awesome. , so thinking of her and like, just thinking of teachers in general, how can classroom teachers expand their idea of what a classroom is like? What are some first steps, like if we have people listening that haven't really thought about this before, what are some things that they could do to get started?

Dr. Paul Bocko: That is a darn good question. Lots of answers. The, the first thing that comes to mind is, , I, often try to coach, , you know, new people to place-based AD or sustainability education, coach them to understand that a field trip alone is not, Place-based education, say, , field trips are wonderful things.

There is no doubt. , kindergarten class, like, like this, this teacher's, you know, going to the [00:09:00] firehouse, , to, you know, visit and learn about that important part of our community is, is great, but it's not really place-based education. It's getting out for an afternoon. I hope I'm not offending anyone out in the audience or in this group.

, But what can be with that same focus, what can be place-based education is visiting the firehouse multiple times, learning about what they do, , , developing a relationship, maybe working with, you know, the, the, , fire folks, you know, they're gonna be busy at times, but working with them, develop. To develop signage for the library about fire, other places, you know, developing a relationship, you know, learning about the history maybe of that department or that even volunteer force, but developing a relationship.

And that's sort of a simple answer because I just, I remember going to the firehouse and going to the police station and it was awesome, but it wasn't a long-term relationship. So, , you asked how they get started and that. [00:10:00] What I just described is a big jump, but I think part of it is a. Is a, you know, a mind shift, a you know, mindset shift as to, , you know, what that kind of relationship is, what a field trip, what role it has to play.

, so I think that's important. , another small way to start, maybe even a better answer to your question is, , that little garden. Or that, , patch of trees just outside the school can be that long-term relationship as well. It doesn't have to be a community, , agency or organization, and that can be long-term, and that's, you don't have to get a bus, you don't have to take a long walk.

Walks are good, but, , but the, the science and the connection and possibly the history right outside the door is, is valuable and it's a nice small way to start. , I often get reminded by our clients from the Center for School Renewal. When I give my first answer that I just gave you, I go, wait a minute, can we start [00:11:00] small?

So I have to back up a little bit. I get excited. But, , but there are plenty of ways to start small and starting right outside. , is a great way to do it. Bringing in, , You know, experts, expert visits alone are not necessarily place-based ED or a a service project, a service learning project. It's long term, but that's a way to start.

And then you build that relationship and maybe they become a mentor for students of any age in the classroom. They might, they might have technology experience they can bring in or work experience. Maybe they're retired, maybe they're not. But those community experts are really important as well. And it grows, it grows from there.

Sorry Laura. It grows from there to, you know, to community partnerships and such, but it's, , maybe we'll talk about this later, but there are ways to do that as well. 

Laura Thomas: And I just wanted to like even go smaller, Paul, because this is something, actually, it's a Harris Center connection. , and so my, , my husband teaches first and second, well now [00:12:00] second and third grade, but he teaches at the elementary level.

And, , they have, they've had, , Over the years, they've had various insects wander into the classroom, right? Because the school is a school, right? And they get ants sometimes. , and they started a whole conversation about this. They've decided it's just one aunt, because he doesn't want the kids to get freaked out by the idea that there are so many ants in this room.

There's just one aunt, and he picks it up and he moves it outside and then, oh look, he found his way back in. , but it opened up then this whole conversation about insects and. Ants and what do they need and how does the ant, how is the ant inside when there's snow on the ground? Which then led into a conversation with the Neologist from, , the Harris Center mm-hmm.

When she came out to talk and they, the kids were like, yeah, Fred, this Aunt Fred. Like, why, why does he keep coming back in? And luckily she played along with the, there's only one ant in this room story. , and, and it just created this great, and everybody's got ants, right? . Theoretically [00:13:00] everyone has access to ants or some insects.

There was a wonderful scorpion, Kathy. Yeah. , do you remember Kathy Scorp, , what's her name? , Kathy Clo Dra wrote that great piece about de spider's fart. Do you remember that, Paul? No, but I like to read it. It's this whole thing, that unit that she did with her students who were urban kids, , city kids.

So they didn't have like outside the door there, there wasn't like a park or something right outside. , and, but her kids were really interested in spiders and they had spiders sort of in the building. And so they started studying spiders and like, what questions do you have about spiders? And that was the, the question they were most concerned about.

Like, do they fart? Like do they really, because these are little kids. And it was this whole great study of spiders and , , yeah, I mean it was a great, a great, she used to do a presentation on it all the time. 

Georgia Terlaje: The farting led to the spider web. Like that's like, why would they be so into spiders farting that? Now I wanna [00:14:00] know. 

Laura Thomas: I teach middle 

Jessica Pack: school and I can say with confidence, 12 year olds would one or the exact same thing. 

Dr. Paul Bocko: It's a universal for all ages. Well, you know, Laura, I'm glad you, I'm glad you brought up, you know, the, the focus, , sort of on the inside, although the, it's the outside, the ants coming in and such, but, , you know, I, I mentioned starting small, just outside the door, but you can also start with the building and you have experts, right in the building, like the, the facilities director or the custodian, or the principal, or maybe some teachers.

I have a colleague from the University of Vermont who wrote an article and he'd be a great guest for this actually, , who wrote an article with others, , called A Trip to the Boiler Room. And it's all about taking, I think, first or second graders on a trip to the boiler room to go find out how the building is heated.

I mean, you know, that was always a mystery to me. I didn't think about it a lot, [00:15:00] but it was like, I, I never knew what was going on behind the walls of, of the building. And you can do that with water, you can do that with energy. , But he just, you know, he takes, he, he, , has done this multiple times. He's done it as workshops for us.

But you take kids to the boiler room with the expert and they explain what's happening and then they relate that to other systems in the building. , and. Again, it's, it's not just a one-off. It's like you keep learning about that. And, and seeing as, as I think you mentioned Georgia, how do you see the classroom as more than the, I don't know if you said four walls, but That's how I always say it.

It's, it's much bigger than that. And if we, if we can shift that mindset, , which is not easy, , you know, it, it changes things. It. It makes some things more challenging, but I think the payoff is so, so great because you know there's more texture out beyond the four walls and more entry points for kids.

Laura Thomas: Well engage. And, [00:16:00] and you also start seeing things as systems, right? And yeah, if we can help l help young learners start to understand how things fit together in systems, , then they're more poised to understand more complex engineering tasks when they're older or even to understand, like when we go outside and we see.

You know, a pa, the first patch of flour of dandelions in the spring. We shouldn't pick them all because that's the bees first food and the bees need that. So we need to leave those, even though they're pretty and we wanna gather them up and take them to somebody. , but until they understand the syst that these things are all.

They all fit together. , it's, yeah, and you gotta start wherever they are with the fitting together. My son was, , one of the, my, when he was a first grader or a kindergartner, they took a trip to the boiler room. , his kindergarten teacher must have, must have gone to that workshop because he was.

Fascinated with the heat. He came home and for years we thought he was gonna go into like HVAC because he was all about the boiler and the heat and what's, what kinda [00:17:00] heat is this and where does that heat come from and yeah. 

Jessica Pack: That's awesome. I love that. So much of this really stems from student curiosity because I think sometimes we're very like stuck in the classroom in the sense that like we have a to-do list of.

Standards or selections or whatever is kind of mandated in a lot of districts. And I think this is a great argument for why we need to not be so married to those things and to respond to student curiosity in such a powerful way. , it, it seems like there's a few different camps or like applications of place-based learning.

Could you talk to us a little bit about that? 

Dr. Paul Bocko: Yeah. And this can, , I'm gonna draw from a specific article. I'm not gonna remember the title, but it's by an, , author, the last name Seawright. , but I'm gonna draw from this article. There could be many answers to this, but it's, it, it can also connect with, with equity.

So this, this author in 2014 wrote [00:18:00] this great article that I share with my place-based students. They're. I think they read it in the last module in my class, but amongst many other things, this, this author presents three camps of, , of place-based education. The first is where the contemporary labeling of place-based education started, and that's, , he terms it, , the liberal camp.

, and that, you know, was, was one of the forerunners of, that was our close colleague, , David Sobel. And, , it's about being connected with nature. It's about what we were just talking about, you know, the boiler room. It's, it's these, you know, just taking advantage of the, of the place, places right around you and expanding the classroom.

That's a short way to say it. , The second, , camp that he writes about is critical place pedagogy. So it's the, , you know, digging into the power differentials. So you know, a student [00:19:00] in, you know, most likely a more urban setting, maybe, maybe rural too, but who goes to a school with a, , You know, petroleum processing plant right next door, you know, brings up a lot of environmental justice and, you know, power differentials.

So, , that's a different experience than say, going to school in Keen New Hampshire. , that might be on the Gulf Coast somewhere, what have you. , so. It, you know, you don't, you know, with the kindergarten kids we've been talking about, you don't get into, you know, this, this sort of doom and try to talk about equity in social justice in such specific terms.

, although the impact is there for them. But with older students, you can talk about that. And, , engage in access to nature and access to, to museums, , field trips, who can go on a field trip, who can't. , you know, it's an issue for students in many different places, but so that, you know, that critical pedagogy part comes [00:20:00] into this and it's an important progression in place-based education.

And then the sort of, the important, very important aha moment is the third camp, and that's the indigenous place-based education camp. And guess what? Spoiler alert, place-based education is not new. , and it's not, it doesn't have to be named in certain, you know, groups. , and I'm not speaking for indigenous people, but , we do work with some.

Some close colleagues and this author Seawright has put this out and it really, it really makes sense. We have to sort of put down the idea that, oh, look at us. We created place-based education. No. What we, what we created, I think. You know, with due respect to all of us is a system that disconnects us from place and nature a lot.

And we need, you know, I think I see nodding on the screen here. Mm-hmm. , but, and I think, I talk to teachers all the time and of course they want that, [00:21:00] but the, the speaking of systems, the system sort of keeps us from that. And it takes work to reconnect. And, you know, one way that I think we're, , You know, delving into and increasing our equity and social justice understanding.

And not speaking for, , underserved people is can, you know, building partnerships with, , indigenous organizations. And we have a couple, you know, tribes in the area here in Southwest New Hampshire and Southeast Vermont that, , are doing really great work and doing the work that they want to do. And they.

Demand support and partnership. , and again, not other, you know, not colonists and settlers, white folks speaking for them. , so those are three camps. I don't know if, I don't know if that was too much for you, but those are the, those are the big ones. That's in some literature that I'm pushing a lot right now.

And it's, again, it's a progression from. Sort of that comfortable, place-based [00:22:00] education that is important to keep, you know, moving from. Laura, 

Laura Thomas: So the, , the, I wanna just reiterate something that you sort of mentioned Paul, , about the little kids, , and

, place-based education, and particularly environmental ed and climate change ed. And this is something that, , our colleague David Sobel, , Used to talk about all the time, and still he has a great book called Beyond Echo Phobia. Yvette, I recommend to anybody who's sort of thinking about this work and he, he said, you know, no tragedy before third grade.

Is that 

Dr. Paul Bocko: right Paul? Yeah, second 

Laura Thomas: or third grade. Second or third grade. The, and, and the premise is we have to teach kids to love the earth, to love nature before we ask them to save it. , and recognize that, , right now, especially right now, there's so much climate change, anxiety. And kids are feeling very powerless.

They're already coming back to school, very anxious. And so, , the more we can, we can let them just learn to love the place they're [00:23:00] in, no matter what it looks like before we try to saddle them with this responsibility for saving the polar bears. , you know, let's just let them love the place. For a while.

And then when they have the, , the agency, you know, they have the skills and they have the, I dunno, the power to actually do some things, like once they're old enough to drive and vote, , or have somebody help them drive someplace, , then we can ask them to do things. But before that, we're just setting them up in a situation where they see a big problem, yet another big problem that they can't do anything about.

, and that's not good for them and it's not good. It's not good for us as society. So, , I just, I always try to make a, a really big point of that cuz I think it's super, super important when folks think about place. Cuz they always, when I like, oh, let's have kids solve a problem about the place. Eh, maybe the problem is just figuring out why this place is so great, right?

Like, what do we love about our [00:24:00] place? , that's a big enough problem for. I think elementary schoolers, like, that's enough until 

Georgia Terlaje: 17. Or just like getting out to the place. Let's like notice the place a little bit. Yeah. And look up from our devices and , what the term I heard the other night from people that are on the computer all the time is you need to go out and kiss the grass.

Just go 

Laura Thomas: kiss the grass. Touch grass. Yeah. 

Georgia Terlaje: A touch grass and get off of your. Of your electronics. , can either of you share, , a, a example that comes to mind of a school or a classroom? I know you talked about the kindergarten classroom, but some other examples of classrooms or schools doing place-based education?

Dr. Paul Bocko: . I think a classic, , sort of nature-based and science example is, , invasive species. Years ago, , , keen High School environmental science class, , did work on the, on the edge of, , What's the Ash Welo River? An a Bennice indigenous name of, of a river.

, they were, you know, investigating. There are multiple, you know, invasive [00:25:00] species. , , European Buck Thorn was the one they focused on. You know, it was a nice little small growing, you know, wooden tree, but it takes over dominates and pushes out indigenous species or native species and, , So what they had to do was investigate, , you know, investigate the different ways to, you know, push back on that.

So they, you know, they. They did experiments, they did little plots out on the edge of the river. , so that's sort of a, a science focus. , another group of, of students here locally at Keen Middle School, they, , we work with them. I, I manage a nature preserving town too, because I just have free time. , , so this middle school group, , this teacher, , teaches nature writing. So we, we help through this nature preserve project. We help them get to the nature preserve and get inspired out there.

They do the thing we were talking about before where they're exploring right outside their school. They have a great [00:26:00] boardwalk right outside their school into some wetlands. , So they get inspired. They integrate that with their adolescent experience and angst, and they come up with these incredible poems.

, and they, they read nature writing. They study nature writing this, the namesake of this, , nature Preserve Horatio Colony the second. Was a writer. He was, he wrote a bestselling book and he did a bunch of nature writing that didn't catch on as much. But, , you know, he's a local writer, so they get inspired, they get inspired by other people.

We have graduate students working with them. So you got university school partnership with a local nonprofit. , those are the things that, you know, after you start small and you keep building, that's where you get to. , so that's something, you know, , Sort of a, a different project. Years ago, , we worked with an American Studies class that was reading The Great Gatsby like a lot of classes do, and, , The teacher was trying to look for a culminating project.[00:27:00] 

And so the, the Horatio Colony House Museum ha is a very eclectic collection of, , of, , art and, and, , you know, collectibles, , for many, many different eras. But some of it is from the twenties. And so what the teacher and we decided to do was set up, , You know, a, a great Gatsby night. So the, the jazz, , musician students in the class came, they played music, they looked into foods, , that you ate.

At that time, we didn't do the drinking, but, , you know, , they dressed in, you know, in the, in the garb of the era. So, you know, they embodied, , not only place, but they embodied a time period as well and acted it out. So, not, not like. With script, but , with, with other stuff. So those are things, those are examples, you know, from the past.

, you know, we, we do a lot very much focused on nature-based education. Our colleague Galand Doris does. It does most of [00:28:00] that, , nature though is part of place-based education or vice versa. I don't, it doesn't matter. But, , you know, the, the forest kindergartens that you hear about and that we have a lot of people doing, that's, that's it.

Going out and just being there, you know, that connection for younger, younger children. It's just about being there and being connected and repeating that so that there's continued connection 

Georgia Terlaje: and putting the device down. Like I really think, like it is almost like teaching them even the littles to go outside and enjoy it.

You know? It's okay cuz like when we were growing up, that's all we did. We were like feral children out in the woods all day. Right. But I think, I think we've lost. That, you know, in the last, I don't know, 20 or so years, and I think we have to teach that again because there's so much you learn in making up your own play and coming up with your own questions and discovering things that, , I think we have to model [00:29:00] that to get them back to that.

Laura Thomas: Yeah. And there's also a way to model appropriate use of technology in those settings. So, right, like when we are out together and we're paying, you know, the kids are like, do they see a bird? Well, then I can use my phone with my Merlin app to identify what the bird is. And, you know, we hear, , an interesting bird song.

Well, I can use that app to help identify the bird, and then we see if we can find it. And is that one that we normally see? Or maybe we're tracking birds or we're, , you know, how many birds we found or we're, , Doing the backyard bird count or whatever it is that fits into, into both the standards. You know, we recognize that teachers have to teach their curriculum, right?

There are standards you have to teach, but, , there are ways to connect those standards to the place that you're in. So if you have to teach graphing, you can teach graphing with birds or with ants or with leaves, or you can teach it with, you know, something else. , but if you have the opportunity to do either, Why not go outside if you can.[00:30:00] 

Right. , 

Georgia Terlaje: and I like that pur purposeful use of the technology, like the Merlin app. I know I've used iNaturalist before. I found out last year when I was in Galapagos, my iPhone, if I hit, took a picture of a plant, it actually told me what the plant was, which was a super cool thing to figure out. , but I mean, that just sort of opens things up to like more like you, you don't have to wonder, you know, like.

Take a picture and like figure out what it is right away and learn more. So, , I think you're totally put 

Laura Thomas: away and then put the device away so they see and look, cut it out, use it, and then put it away. We're 

Georgia Terlaje: not walking around like moment. 

Dr. Paul Bocko: Yeah. I think, I think another appropriate use is, , you know, prepping, prepping for this, I was remembering us, , sharing with students like my graduate students and I sharing with students a story map.

, You know that that has the map and has graphics and has information sharing that with them about the nature preserve or about downtown in a city [00:31:00] or wherever. You know, sharing that with them. And then they would learn more about it. And then their job was to create an ex exhibit of their learning music.

A tool like that. Sometimes just, you know, using story map or. Maybe some other, some other technology or old-fashioned technology, like two-dimensional. , I also had one student or one, , group of students, , Develop a voice map, I believe is what it's called, where you do an audio tour of a place. , so they did that of a, of a street in key New Hampshire that has, you know, you, you drive down the street and you think, oh, these are nice houses, but nothing so Granny's Washington Street, Laura, , a really nice street has, the elementary school is right there on it, but they.

There are some historical figures that lived on the street, like, , an African American doctor who passed as white, , in the long, you know, back in the forties around World War ii, but so that's one story. But there are other stories, an old [00:32:00] jail that's on the street, that's just a house now, but they voiced that for people.

So it was a different way, instead of having a written map or treasure map, it was, you know, an audio tour that people can do. So that's out there as well. 

Laura Thomas: Yeah. And there were, there was a group that did, , something like that. They did QR codes. When they did the murals, not the big, we had walldogs come, I don't know if you know Walldogs, but they did these like giant historical murals in town.

But before that, keen State students would just put up these temporary, , murals that would come down after a few months. And I think it was high school students did, , the same kind of audio thing, but they just, , they recorded it and then people could. You know, do the QR code and hear the, you know, something about the art and the artist.

, and I thought that, you know, it was an interesting way to get people to just engage with the place that they're in. , a place that they walk by a thousand times a day, probably, or a thousand times a week if they live downtown. , but to stop and actually see it [00:33:00] cuz most people don't see the place they're, that they're in.

, cuz they've been there so 

Dr. Paul Bocko: long. I don't, I don't know if you'll wanna include this in, but I, , Yesterday or a few days ago, I was in a, in a bagel shop in Keene and I was sitting near some people and they were using these words. I, I still don't know what they are, but they were using this language that I didn't understand.

And finally they were sharing things and they showed me something just cuz they were excited, I didn't know what it was. And I finally asked them, what are you doing? And they were like, oh, we're we're doing, , Pokemon and Go. And what was, what was incredible is it was this little, you know, they're, people get points and things you can tell.

I don't know about this, but what was incredible as a place-based educator, I was listening and then they were telling me about this historical facts that they were gathering. Like, oh yeah, we found out when the, the first church, you know, the first parish in Keene was erected or was established, you know, and it was this, It wouldn't be the way I would choose to do it, but I was like, wow, this is pretty cool.[00:34:00] 

They are learning about it and they were talking about. I'm spending more time with my mom. It was a mother and daughter that were there. They were spending more time with each other. They were meeting people, God forbid, and talking with other people, not just about Pokemon Go. 

Laura Thomas: Thank 

Jessica Pack: you so much to our community leader, Laura, and our guest, Dr. Mr. Baco for joining us here on the edge today. Do you have any final thoughts to share before we let you go?

Dr. Paul Bocko: , Yeah, I, I, I didn't get to sort of frame things this way, but I think I just encourage people to, as we talked about earlier, try to expand your understanding, your definition of what classroom is, classroom quotes, , Because I think it, it really opens up a lot of entry points for students. And, , if, if you expand that to the, to the building, to the immediate surrounding the school and the town and the, and the city [00:35:00] scape, whatever it is, I think it really opens things up, you know, when you, when you see the classroom as the natural, cultural and built environment, not just the four walls you're in.

Laura Thomas: Yeah. And I would just say that, , You know, so often, particularly in this age of social media, kids have a sense that where they are isn't possibly as cool as someplace else. Uhhuh, every place else is cooler than here. Everyone else is cooler than me. And I think that place-based education can help people discover, help young people discover how cool here actually is.

, but. Especially, I feel like kids in, in deeply rural areas get the message that nobody cool stays in the country and kids in, , urban areas get the same message that this isn't where you're supposed to be. Like if, if you really matter, if you're important, if you make it, you get outta here. , and. And I think that does everybody [00:36:00] a huge injustice because there's a lot to value in where you are.

Mm-hmm. , and that's the gift I think of place-based education is that it can help people see that right here is actually really great. And maybe I don't have to go halfway across the li the world to build my life. , maybe what I really wanna be is right here. And I think that's good. Community service.

I love that 

Jessica Pack: set. That is such a beautiful sentiment to wrap up our episode. Thanks for joining in this episode of the Edge Podcast. We hope you have a great time. My name is Jessica and you can find me at PAC Woman 2 0 8 on Twitter and 

Georgia Terlaje: Instagram. And I'm Georgia. And you can find me at Georgia Turla on Twitter.

Laura Thomas: On 

Jessica Pack: behalf of everyone at Ty's the Edge podcast, remember to keep exploring your passion, fostering your creativity, and continue taking risks, all things that bring you to the edge.[00:37:00]