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Lincoln Outdoor Learning Lab: Outdoor Laboratory Photo Gallery

Contact Information

Lincoln Elementary School

909 Sequoia Trail

Madison, WI 53713

Josie Guiney Igielski

Clare Seguin

Deb Hoffman

Students Complete a Site Assessment 2010-2011


Using the National Wildlife Federation Site Assessment as a guide. Students tracked the path of the sunlight in the outdoor space throughout the day for several days.

They took soil samples from 10-15 different potential planting sites. Then tested the quality and pH of the samples. They also analyzed the sample to determine the soil type, in order to best select plants and animal habitats for that space.


Students tracked traffic patterns of people, vehicles, and some evidence of animal usage. Students assessed where and when the highest amounts of foot traffic, bus traffic, and other vehicle traffic took place. These observations informed students placement of the outdoor structure, new beds sites, and helped them understand how the space was being used at the time.

Students collected data over several weeks of the flora and fauna present in the space. Students used this data to plan for what plant and animal populations that they would like see in future habitats. 


Students presented their findings to the student leadership team, in order to inform all members of data and analysis. The student leadership team used the site analysis and the National Wildlife Federation's Schoolyard Habitat requirements to inform their designs for the Outdoor Lab. The findings were collected and placed in a binder for future students to use. 



Students Create Inspirational Designs 2010-2011


Students participated in a design charrette in which each group created a concept drawing for the space. They also researched the historical usage of the space, and learned about the plan that was created 15 years ago for the outdoor space at Lincoln.


Students were encouraged to "Dream Big" and be specific. 

Each groups submitted a written report summarizing how their plan met the requirements of the National Wildlife Federation Schoolyard Habitat's requirements.


Students from all over the school were asked to submit their ideas to the expert panel. 

Parents, community members, and staff were also asked to submit ideas, sketches, and lists of wants and needs in the outdoor learning space at Lincoln. The opinions and needs of these groups were considered by the student designers, and the experts assisting them. 

Community Experts Hear Student Design Ideas 2010-2011

Landscape Architect, Bob Downing, listens to students landscape design ideas and offers suggestions for edits and helps them better understand where all of their aspects of design might fit into the outdoor space.


Structral Architect, Jessica Klehr, brainstorms with students and tries to incorporate their design ideas into a beautiful outdoor structure design. She focused on using the sun's path for placement of the structure, using traffic patterns and usage to decide the size of the structure, and other inspirational photos to create options for aesthetic.  


One week later the expert returned ready to start sketching out a master plan for the Outdoor Laboratory and outdoor classroom structure. Students were able to see design experts at work, and how professional architects debate and compromise.



Experts Bring Back Potential Design Plans 2010-2011


Experts present the first draft of a master plan for the Outdoor Learning Laboratory, and three potential outdoor classroom structure designs. They communicated the pros and cons of the plans, and showed kids how their ideas were incorporated. 

Students gave feedback using their site assessment data and the wants and needs collected from the teachers, the Burr Oaks Neighborhood Association and their fmailies. They also held the experts accountable for their original design ideas and kept their knowledge of the outdoor space as a big focus of the interaction.


Two weeks later, the experts submitted updated plans and the students selected their ideal structure. 

Wellness Path Construction 2011-2012

Students measure and map out the 1/4 mile distance.


Over five work days students, staff, experts, and community members work together to create the 1/4 mile Wellness Path.




Finally, the path was complete!

Students Using the Wellness Path

Mindful Breathing

Girls on the Run Club

Madison Youth Marathon