Outdoor Classroom

All Hacienda students eagerly anticipate their many “field trips” to the amazing outdoor classroom during weekly science lab sessions and outdoor workdays. Begun in 1971, Hacienda’s one-acre outdoor science classroom is a living laboratory for young scientists to explore plant and animal communities native to the Santa Clara Valley and surrounding foothills. A running stream system flows from the redwood forest down to a cattail-lined marsh and pond, representing the local Guadalupe watershed. More than 100 species of native plants attract a diversity of wildlife, from nesting mallard ducks and Cooper’s hawks to western fence lizards, monarch butterflies and much more. Students form a positive, personal connection with the natural environment from these memorable sights and experiences in Hacienda’s “nature acre.”

The Santa Clara Valley ecosystems studied by students in Hacienda’s outdoor classroom include:

1. Oak woodland
2. Coast redwood forest
3. Valley grassland
4. Riparian zone (streamside area)
5. Chaparral
6. Pond and marsh

Outdoor Workdays

Our unique outdoor classroom is maintained entirely by Hacienda’s parents, students and dedicated staff. We need all our families’ help to keep the outdoor science classroom in tip-top shape by attending one or more workdays this school year. Check the Hacienda home page calendar for dates and times.

Outdoor Classroom History

A History of the Outdoor Science Classroom at Hacienda Environmental Science Magnet

In 1971, when Hacienda Environmental Science Magnet was known as Valley View School, a teacher named Edy Young and her principal, Fred Ross, decided to create and innovative science program. Central to the program was the concept of an outdoor science lab where teachers could provide “hands on” science to connect students with the natural world. At a time when the native plants and animals were beginning to vanish from developing San Jose neighborhoods, Valley View teachers saw the importance of creating a space where students could learn about and develop a personal connection to the natural world.


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