Place-based learning brings “relevance that students crave”

Dr. Don Hammond, a Discovering Place science teacher at Beecher High School, is becoming known for engaging his students in environmental projects that connect youth with the place they live.

Hammond’s article, “Leadership Strategies for Place-Based Learning,” was published this month by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

“Students really want to make a difference, and it is easy to capture their interest in improving the world that they are inheriting from the previous generation,” wrote Hammond. “One way to meet those needs is through place-based education. “

In the article, Hammond notes that plugging into the “interests and motivations of students” brings the “relevance that students crave.”

While involving students in a slew of projects such as creating vegetable and butterfly gardens, recycling, and building a nature trail classroom, Hammond found youth embraced, rather than resented, working on the activities. Instead, the projects were “naturally supported by students who see a new way of learning, solving problems, and discovering.”

Hammond’s article also includes valuable tips for both teachers and administrators. Read more here.


Discovering Place is a program of University Outreach at the University of Michigan-Flint. One of eight hubs of the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, the program aims to help students develop into Flint community and environmental stewards. Working with Flint-area teachers and community partners, Discovering Place supports place-based education projects to help students connect with their surroundings.

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