STEM-HAL interdisciplinary project
American youth are facing challenges in both physical health domains (e.g., obesity) and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education achievement. The College of Education and College of Natural Resources researchers addressed both issues by piloting a weeklong study of an Adventure Learning-based GreenSTEM curriculum with Coeur d’Alene high school students. The Coeur d’Alene students visited McCall Outdoor Science School (MOSS) for a week in March to learn about snow science and climate change through outdoor adventure learning activities. Adventure Learning programs engage students in exciting, science inquiry-based outdoor experiences and use the internet to facilitate communication and interaction regarding those experiences. These programs have been found to motivate students and inspire meaningful collaborations and inquiries for students and teachers.
Findings will provide practical direction for future program development in Idaho schools that effectively explores the intersection of healthy outdoor activities and STEM. This project is still underway; however, preliminary data analyses indicate that students participating in the residential science school walked an average of three miles more per day while engaged in the adventure learning program. Students also reported increased engagement in science and physical activities due to the low student-teacher ratio, hands-on applied science projects, and learning new and interesting outdoor activities.
Students reported that they intended to increase physical activity upon completing of the program and to try new and different physical activities like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowboarding. Teachers involved with the project also reported learning new ways to engage students in science curriculum and the desire to use outdoor learning activities in future to engage students in science topics.
Faculty and Staff working on this project include Dr. Susan Houge Mackenzie & Dr. Julie Stafford Son (REC), Dr. R. Justin Hougham & Dr. Brant Miller (C&I), and Dr. Karla Eitel & Gary Thompson (MOSS).
Improving the scholarship of adventure and outdoor recreation
Susan Mackenzie has been working to improve the scholarship of adventure and outdoor recreation through a range of research projects. Recently completed projects included the use of head-mounted cameras to study optimal adventure experiences; the motivations and emotions involved in adventure; and investigations of adventure tourism in South America. These projects have resulted in high impact publications within the field of recreation in the Journal of Leisure Research, Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, and Psychology of Sport & Exercise.
Susan’s current projects focus on the psychological aspects of recreational and competitive climbing, and using adventure activities to engage youth in STEM education and physical activity. She received a 2012 University of Idaho seed grant to investigate indigenous perceptions of adventure and adventure tourism with Māori (indigenous people of Aotearoa/New Zealand). This project will employ a Kaupapa Māori research paradigm to investigate Māori perceptions of adventure; values and benefits associated with adventure; and representations of Māori culture within adventure tourism. It is hoped that this project will inform University of Idaho recreation and leisure curriculum regarding indigenous perspectives of recreation. Service and outreach projects should also be strengthened as a result of this project as Susan sits on the Idaho Recreation and Tourism steering committee and the newly appointed U-Idaho International Engagement Advisory Council.