How to connect curriculum to the OTTER Lab

Education outside the classroom has to be aligned with the objectives set in the curriculum. This applies to OTTER Lab as well.

OTTER Lab’s approach is flexible, and it can be linked to any curriculum. This requires careful analysis of the curriculum one is implementing and linking the objectives of the curriculum to the OTTER Lab’s approach.

Which of the objectives in the curriculum could be achieved 
through OTTER Lab and EOC?
Key question is: Which of the objectives in the curriculum could be achieved through OTTER Lab and education outside the classroom? The most obvious subjects to be linked to OTTER Lab are the STEAM subjects like Biology, Chemistry, Environmental studies, Geography, Mathematics, Physics, Science, Art etc., but also History, Social studies, Mother tongue, Languages, Physical education, etc. 
OTTER Lab can be used in teaching one subject. However, OTTER Lab offers an excellent structure to implement a multi-disciplinary approach and combine several different subjects. One way to approach this opportunity is to introduce the idea of OTTER Lab to colleagues within the school and see if there is interest to join forces and plan the Lab together as it can be adapted to several subjects at the same time. It can also be considered if the planned EOC project/activity could be shared, for example with all the grade 4 classes in one school. Education for sustainable development could be something that the whole school commits to! Furthermore, cooperation with external stakeholders – like local NGOs, museums and other cultural organizations, companies etc. – is easier to establish if EOC is a school effort.
Looking closer to the objectives of the potential subjects one can find several themes suitable for OTTER Lab and EOC. Here are some examples from Online magazine for environmental education
In chemistry, students get to study many kinds of natural phenomena and topics related to nature. In addition, topics of sustainable lifestyle are part of everyday chemistry: What substances do the products I use every day, such as food, cosmetics and detergents, contain? What kind of sustainable practices can I adopt? How do I handle dangerous substances? Sustainable use of natural resources, life cycle thinking and understanding ecosystem are also essential contents in chemistry teaching.
Energy is one of the central topics in physics instruction. Physics deals with energy as a phenomenon, its preservation and change, and energy production. Energy consumption can be observed in the student's own everyday life, such as in the school building or at home. On the other hand, getting to know the methods of energy production is an important theme. In teaching physics, students can learn about technological solutions that effectively save natural resources or otherwise promote a sustainable lifestyle

From the point of view of environmental issues, mathematical understanding is essential. Examples can be found from the easiest math basics to the most difficult and complex problems. In primary school level, pedagogically guided games and activities are one important way of working in mathematics. For example, in nature it is easy to concretize the decimal system, symmetry and measurement and to make statistics based on observations.

Also in lower secondary level, the goal is to find examples from students’ own life. For example, direct and inverse proportionality is clearly visible in natural phenomena, and it is easy to start building equations, building statistics or handling trigonometric functions with the help of experiential nature tasks.

Dealing with mathematical problems in a natural environment also motivates children and young people, and helps them find meanings alongside abstract numbers. Environmental problems are often described with diagrams, statistics and figures. Climate change, over-consumption of the earth's natural resources and population growth are illustrated through mathematics.

One aim of the mother tongue is to practice thinking skills and especially critical thinking. Instead of learning individual facts, it is more important to learn creative thinking and constructive communication. Sustainable solutions are only created through interaction and co-operation. The reflection and expression of one's own opinions are basic skills that are necessary when building a sustainable future together with others. In terms of environmental issues, it is also essential to understand the different goals and purposes of the texts. It is important to take various environmental topics as a theme for writings and to organize discussions and debates about these issues in mother tongue lessons.

The task of a mother tongue teacher is not to be a scientist or science teacher, but their task is to create learning experiences in which the reflection and thinking related to these issues can be developed.