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A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Wednesday morning for a new Outdoor Classroom at Harding University Partnership School (HUPS).

The project transformed one of the school’s play spaces into an outdoor classroom. The project’s architect included a Dimensions Educational Research Foundation team that helped create a “Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom Conceptual Plan.” This project is a proof of concept and an initial phase of the Early Learning Plan “Project H.O.P.E+S” — funded through a grant awarded to SBUSD from First 5 of Santa Barbara.  This long-term grant ultimately aims to provide 21st-century learning environments at all elementary schools. 

STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) labs are also being developed to work in concert with the outdoor classrooms. With one supporting the other, students will learn through inquiry-based, hands-on, and collaborative learning to increase student outcomes across the district.

“With the Outdoor Classroom newly opened, we already see a shift in student play to small group collaborative learning around exploration, building, and creating.  UCSB is conducting a research project around the impact that this space has on our young students. We look forward to seeing this become a model other schools can use,” said Principal Veronica Binkley. 

Construction on the Outdoor Classroom started in December but was delayed due to the rainy winter. 

“We are excited to see the outdoor classroom come together. We look forward to seeing how Harding uses the outdoor classroom to inspire future scientists, engineers, artists, and scholars,” said Dr. Hilda Maldonado, Superintendent.

Photos and Video

Photos and video of the ribbon cutting are available here.

For Media Inquiries

For interviews about the new outdoor classroom, please contact Ed Zuchelli at


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