Pullman School District – Jefferson Elementary Outdoor Learning Lab
The Jefferson Elementary Outdoor Learning Lab project was inspired by a first-grade teacher who envisioned her students having daily access to nature-based experiential learning opportunities. SPVV provided a preliminary design for the 13,000 square-foot learning lab with five major learning zones: the amphitheater area, the nature journaling area, the core area, a pollinator garden, and an edible garden. The lab’s design focuses on inclusivity, with accessible pathways, flexible spaces able to host a variety of activities, “cozy spaces,” a digging area, interactive interpretive signage and art, and plants chosen for their sensory qualities. Though these features benefit all children, they’re particularly beneficial for those with special needs such as autism and sensory processing issues. The Outdoor Learning Lab construction is a collaboration between Jefferson Elementary, a local contractor, and the WSU Landscape Architecture Program. Jena Jauchius, also an adjunct instructor with the WSU Landscape Architecture Program at the time, and her landscape architecture design-build students and numerous volunteers completed construction of the first learning lab “zone,” the amphitheater in May 2019. The Outdoor Learning Lab has won three awards to date: The Green Ribbon Schools National Award, Washington Green Schools Silver Award, and Washington Green Schools Bronze Award.