Best STEM Outdoor Program in Southern California

Kids aren’t learning enough STEM skills, or at least, they’re not choosing to pursue them once they have the choice. And that’s a shame – since STEM careers pay more than average when it comes to salaries. 

If kids don’t learn to take an interest in STEM young, they’ll never develop a true love for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. But learning those subjects in the classroom can get a little bit…dry. It’s much better to learn them hands-on, when possible. 

And it’s possible if you schedule a field trip with Pali Institute, where we specialize in custom-curated field trips, which are accredited for experiential learning. You’ll be blown away by how we manage to teach students outdoor STEM skills while they’re having almost too much fun to realize they’re learning. 

Want to know how we pull that off? Read below or learn about the best STEM outdoor program in Southern California. 

Our Staff and Teachers 

We pretty much have the dream team for the best STEM outdoor program in Southern California. All our staff are background checked and have at least a bachelor’s degree in something relevant to the courses they lead. 

We have a chef on site too, along with professional kitchen staff. They’ll make sure the students are well fed so that their brains and bodies can take full advantage of our packed-full Pali Institute day’s schedule. 

You’re welcome to bring your own teaching staff to help, but we don’t ask for parents or other extra chaperones. We want this outdoor STEM learning program to be a growing experience for students, both academically and personally. It’s hard to make students feel independent when parents are around, even if they’re acting as chaperones. 

Our Experiential Learning Curriculum 

Experiential learning deserves a lot more credit than it gets. In fact, one could argue that it’s the oldest type of learning there is – from back before we had written language or books. 

And even when there were books, most people didn’t have access to them for the first couple hundred years. Instead, they learned by apprenticeship, which is a perfect example of experiential learning.  Aristotle even said, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”

When it comes to endorsements for your teaching style, you might not want to turn up your nose at Aristotle. We know the Association for Experiential Education and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges agree. We’re the only outdoor education program accredited by both!

STEM and Experiential Learning: Bridging the Gap 

One of the biggest benefits of experiential learning is that it bridges the gaps between theory and practice. Students can talk about the body’s systems in class (science) but taking an animal apart through a guided dissection is a completely different experience. 

In our earth science curriculum, kids look at infrastructure issues and engineering concepts as they pertain to natural disasters. In a state like California, which is so active with earthquakes – it’s good knowledge to have. 

While they’ll do some classic learning first, they’ll then get to create their own structures and see how they hold up to (simulated) disasters. It’s nature, science, and engineering combined. 

STEM in Action: Our Outdoor Education Program

What will kids do in this experiential learning experience, you ask? The day looks something like this. 

First, they’ll have breakfast prepared by our chef and kitchen staff. They’ll have a range of healthy options to choose from, all of which are peanut and tree nut-free. With advance notice, we can even prepare vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free, too. We try to provide fresh fruit and veggies since they’re generally allergen free. 

Then they’ll have up to five classes, which you can select from our menu of more than 30 classes. Generally, each session is 90 minutes, with some double session classes. There are gaps in between for lunch and to get from place to place. 

Examples of Classes

Hiking in the mountains or in any terrain isn’t as simple as going on a walk. You need to leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but memories. In this class, students learn different philosophies for being in nature, like “leave no trace”. 

You can even work with our coordinators to pick a specific focus for your hike, which can include going to our nature center or even bird watching if you’re talking about Darwinism in class. We don’t have those specific Galapagos finches in our area, but we can still have a good look at the birds of the San Bernardino forest. 

Orienteering

Orienteering is just like engineering but in nature. It takes some serious spatial and calculating skills to read maps and figure out how to get from point a to point b. In fact, orienteering used to be a sport. 

Some people still practice it today, though not as many. Your students can try their hand at it on a guided hike with our staff and their peers. We have access to more than 250 acres, so there’s plenty of terrains to map out. 

Getting to Pali Institute 

Nothing but time and planning stand between you, your students, and the best STEM outdoor program in Southern California. You and your students could be staying in our climate controlled cabins with recessed floor heating and classic camp-style bunk beds. 

You’ll wake up to mountain views (depending on the room you get) and breathe our gorgeous mountain air while your students have the field trip of a lifetime. 

Find out more about our outdoor STEM program you can request more info or talk to one our coordinators. They’re waiting to help you plan.