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Unique Learning Spaces

Oak Ridge is proud to support sustainable ecological spaces by creating outdoor play areas, helping pollinators and enhancing wildlife habitat.

Students sit in and climb on top of hollow log
Three students dig for fossils in sandbox
Three children around a large log structure
Students pose on tree stumps
Students climb on logs on outdoor playground
Children dig in a sandbox
Children climbing on logs
Smiling kids crouch inside large hollow log
Students play on nature playground

Nature Inspired Play Space

This area is designed with nature inspired components to encourage unstructured play, take on and overcome challenges and guide creative ways to connect with nature and the outdoors.  Inclusive, multi-sensory play spaces support learning about the outdoors, invite curiosity about the natural world, encourage social play and engage all of the senses.

Student playing outdoor bell sculpture
Two students playing outdoor xylophone
Student playing cajon outdoors
Three students playing outdoor instruments
Students wave scarves in outdoor music playground
Boy playing chimes in outdoor music playground
Students play instruments in outdoor music playground

Music Garden

The sound sculptures in this area are designed to create music and inspire joyful play.  Outdoor working sculptures and percussion instruments encourage play, learning and enjoyment.  Music creates community and connection that builds confidence, creativity, and self-expression wile reducing stress and elevating moods.

Teacher directs a group of students outdoors
Students walking on a path in the woods
Sun shining on group of students
Student wearing safety glasses uses hacksaw to remove buckthorn
Teacher and students walking down steps in forest
Students carrying sticks in forest

School Forest

This area is managed as an outdoor classroom space to develop an appreciation and awareness of the Earth's natural resources in all weather types and seasons.  School forests support a long-term commitment to natural resource management, exploring environmental issues, and taking action to improve the environment.  This space supports an intentional focus on cooperative play, careful observation, and wilderness exploration.

Teacher and children looking at plants in raised garden bed
Male student points to plant in garden bed
Teacher and students looking at plants in raised garden bed
Student bends to look at garden plant with magnifying glass
Student looks at garden plant through magnifying glass
Student looks at plants through magnifying glass


This area is designed to grow small plots of vegetables and flowers.  Gardening provides an opportunity to physically connect with nature, allowing for observation and research of the life cycle of plants.  It fosters organization and math skills along with patience and care for nature.

Native prairie garden and sign
Native Prairie Restoration Sign
Native Plantings Sign

Native Prairie Restoration

This area is being restored and managed to encourage the growth of grasses and wildflowers that are native to Minnesota.  In addition to preventing erosion and improving water quality, the diverse native plants provide essential food and habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife.  Natives are well adapted to local conditions, require very little care once they are established, and add beauty to the landscape.

Preschool students walking on garden path
Stone benches in garden
Dry creek bed in garden

Rain Gardens

This area is engineered into a shallow depression of multiple layers where water collects.  Deep-rooted plans naturally filter rainfall to help keep groundwater clean.  Plants and natural features in rain gardens help to stop runoff water by holding and soaking in precipitation and filtering out pollutants.  The gardens help with flood protection, habitat creation, pollution control and water conservation.

School building with native plantings and sign
Orchard Sign


This area is planted with fruit trees and is an open space for enjoying nature.  Orchards are a good way of producing food locally in a way that is sustainable over many years.  Fruit trees also provide a food source for pollinators.

Student examines a worm with a magnifying glass
Male student wearing safety goggles holding up screw
Two students wearing safety glasses screwing screws into wood
Two students building a race track
Two female students taking apart electronics
Two students use iPads to control robots
Two students sanding wood blocks
Female student pounds nail while holding it with pliers
Two students peek through a cardboard box
A student wearing safety goggles pounds a nail with hammer
A student examines dirt with a tweezer
Two students in lab coats filter water
Students build a marble run

Ology Lab

Our Ology Lab is a flexible laboratory space for hands-on exploration.

Living Wall

This beautiful feature purifies the air and provides indoor green space. Students designed the plant layout and helped install the plants.