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Oklahoma State University

Cleo L. Craig Child Development Laboratory Celebrates Outdoor Classroom Opening

One-two-three-GO! The Land Run of 2017 was on as children raced to experience for the first time the Return to Nature Outdoor Learning Environment at the Cleo L. Craig Child Development Laboratory. College of Human Sciences Dean Stephan Wilson welcomed a crowd of children, donors and friends on May 5 to celebrate the grand opening.

“This has been a long-time dream of early childhood education faculty in human development and family science,” Wilson said during the ribbon cutting ceremony. “We are grateful to the Craig family for so enthusiastically supporting the project. Their gifts to the CDL continue to benefit students through the creation of this impressive cutting edge ‘outdoor classroom’ for teaching, learning and research.”

Return to Nature Ribbon Cutting
Dean Stephan Wilson, Helen Craig, Lisa Patel, Jim Rutledge, Dianna Ross, Kelly Harris and Toni Ivey cut the bright orange ribbon to open the Return to Nature Outdoor Learning Environment.

In addition to the Cleo L. Craig Foundation, other donors to the project include: John and Margie Harris, Piyush and Lisa Patel, Jim Rutledge, Wade and Michal Shaw and the 2016 CDL Parent Teacher Organization.

From sandy digging spaces to a quiet shade garden and walking path to percussion musical instruments, the 13,750 square-feet of outdoor educational play space provides children enrolled in the CDL unique opportunities to experience nature while seemingly just playing.

A wooden windmill is the focal point of the outdoor classroom. A rain garden incorporates a fun walking bridge and water-tolerant plantings, while the climbing adventure will help children safely test their boundaries and become expert climbers.

The CDL in the College of Human Sciences has been a national leader in early childhood education research and application for 93 years. It provides a research-based, early childhood learning environment to approximately 70 children during the school year. From 75-100 Oklahoma State University students utilize the lab for observation, research or practicums each week. Undergrad and graduate students from human development and family science, nutritional sciences, communication sciences and disorders, health and human performance, recreation management and recreational therapy take advantage of the opportunity to learn from OSU’s youngest students. 

Grand Opening Photo Gallery