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Ecologists Educators and Schools:Partners in GK-12 Education


Northern Rockies Natural History Guide

Ecologists Educators and Schools No Child Left Indoors
Partners in GK-12 Education

No Child Left Indoors!

ECOS is a partnership program for enhancing teaching skills of graduate students in the sciences and promoting hands-on science education in K-12 schools. We use the schoolyard and adjacent open areas in western Montana as outdoor laboratories for learning about the environment.

Ecology and environmental sciences graduate and undergraduate students from the University of Montana are showing K-12 students and their teachers how to use an ecological lens for viewing their schoolyard. Instead of a playground, they learn to see an ecological laboratory filled with organisms with interesting adaptations and interactions. The ECOS teams model what ecologists do by immersing themselves in ecological investigations in their schoolyard and classroom laboratories.


Lewis and Clark Outdoor Discovery Core

Lewis and Clark Elementary School: Enhancing the Outdoor Discovery Core

To promote hands-on science education in schoolyards and adjacent open areas in western Montana, the ECOS team enhanced the native garden, called the Outdoor Discovery Core, at Lewis and Clark Elementary School. This garden became an outdoor laboratory to teach a variety of ecological topics, including plant identification, observation and using a nature field guide. A comprehensive nature guide identifying all of the plants in the Outdoor Discovery Core allows the whole school to benefit from this team’s project. Also, 100 plant ID plaques are in place and detailed natural history information was compiled for 12 common species in the garden that were originally identified by Lewis and Clark. Each of the 12 featured plants has a small description taken from the journal of Meriwether Lewis.


The ECOS program is sponsored by the University of Montana's Division of Biological Sciences, and the College of Forestry and Conservation.

Carol Brewer Program Director, Division of Biological Sciences Paul Alaback Program Co-Director, College of Forestry and Conservation

Funded by the National Science Foundation
ECOS is supported by the GK-12 Program of the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.