Outdoor Lab (Arlington Outdoor Education Association)

EIN: 54-0840089

Mission Statement

Arlington Outdoor Education Association creates opportunities for all Arlington Public School students to experience hands-on STEM outdoor education that extends traditional classroom by conserving undeveloped land and building inspiring learning facilities. 

Program Summary

The Outdoor Lab offers over 9,000 Arlington students annually exceptional experiential learning and the opportunity to apply science in the real world. As a longstanding partnership between the Arlington Outdoor Education Association (AOEA) and the Arlington Public Schools (APS), AOEA conserves the land and operates facilities while APS provides teachers, educational content, and transportation.

As an all-volunteer organization, AOEA is committed to expansive, experiential learning. This includes programming during the academic year for all Arlington Public Students in 3rd, 5th, and 7th grades, in addition to some high school students. We also support a three-week summer camp. Academic and recreational activities made possible by the Arlington Outdoor Education Association include boating, hiking, animal observation, fishing, science experiments, tent sleeping, and dark-sky observations. Many times, experiences at the Outdoor Lab are the first time that participating youth have run in a meadow, climbed a mountain, hiked beside a stream, or fished in a pond. 

Impact Statement

Each year, students from all of Arlington’s twenty-four elementary schools, four middle schools, and four high schools visit the 226-acre Outdoor Lab to put their book learning into action. Quite literally, the AOEA provides an outdoor classroom where students apply chemistry, biology, and physics in real-world ways. Perhaps students learned about clean, healthy water from a video in their school classroom. But at the Lab, they wade in the stream, collect water samples, and examine the small aquatic life under a microscope to determine if the stream is healthy. This is an unmatched opportunity for curious young minds. All third and seventh graders, in addition to some high school students, participate in day trips and all fifth graders have a special overnight trip.

Arlington Outdoor Education Association believes that learning in a natural classroom is a vital part of the Arlington Public School curriculum. We are committed to the ongoing maintenance of this property for the growing generations of students to come. As we look to the future, we envision modernized facilities and a growing property footprint to ensure outstanding educational opportunities and additional undeveloped open space for natural habitat.

What ways can the public get involved?

Volunteers help maintain trails, buildings, and structures at the Outdoor Lab. They also enhance and/or preserve our natural environment by removing invasive species, improving drainage, and planting native plants. Additionally, volunteers help run our twice-yearly Open Houses. We welcome small groups to volunteer together, like scouting troops or nature-related organizations.

How are charitable dollars spent? Where does my donation go?

Your gift to AOEA strengthens the natural environment for students to explore applied science:

  • Conserving wildlife and habitat, including the removal of invasive species, ensuring that native plants and animals thrive.
  • Protecting clean water sources.
  • Maintaining and modernizing educational facilities, including the Animal Lab that houses turtles, snakes, and other animals so students have interactive experiences, no matter the weather; the Cottage that houses the kitchen, dining area and offices; and tents and tent platforms for overnight camping.

Together, we ensure that students have access to this natural classroom as an extension of their traditional learning. 

Information provided March 2024