Story at a glance:
- Learning outside comes with a range of benefits for students, from increasing interest in school to better focus and information retention.
- Renson outdoor structures provide a controlled environment and make learning outdoors more accessible.
- Renson recently completed a green classroom in Dallas, Texas, in partnership with the nonprofit United to Learn.
Studies show that learning outdoors increases kids’ interest in both school and subject matter, motivates them to learn, helps them retain information longer, and improves focus once they return to the classroom.
With the benefits of outdoor classrooms so clearly documented, the looming question is not why learn outside but how. Seasonal weather can keep students inside for extended periods of time, while daily weather changes can make outdoor lesson plans challenging. For teachers, the guarantee of a controlled environment makes indoor classrooms an easier, more predictable setting for learning.
That’s why companies like Renson are designing outdoor structures that make learning outside more accessible. The outdoors, sun protection, and ventilation manufacturer’s aluminum pergolas maintain all of the best parts about being outdoors while also providing the ability to control the space. Hot or cold, rain or snow—the pergolas make outdoor living and learning comfortable with roof louvers that can rotate 150-degrees to maintain shade at any time of day. When closed, the louvers are water-repellent so that lesson plans can go on uninterrupted even if it’s raining.
In Dallas Renson recently brought such a flexible outdoor classroom to life. Partnering with United to Learn, a nonprofit dedicated to uplifting education and community in Dallas, Renson built an outdoor classroom at the César Chávez Learning Center. Renson’s Algarve aluminum pergola was installed at the elementary school in May 2023 and now serves as a green classroom where kids can now learn in nature regardless of the weather.
“In an area like Texas, where the heat can be scorching, they needed a space that can stand up to the weather,” says Andrea Zaghi, marketing manager at Renson.
“There’s a whiteboard on the side with tables, chairs, and desks where kids can be educated outside,” says Jürgen Skoda, technical director at Renson. “One side has a screen that keeps the kids cooled down from the sun that comes in sideways, so they’ll be protected from the wind and the sun. And they can even use it when it’s raining outside because of the integrated rain sensors that makes the pergola’s louvers close automatically when it starts raining.”
As with everything Renson does, sustainability was key to the César Chávez Learning Center project. The Algarve system was made locally in the Carrollton area of Dallas with 100% recyclable aluminum and was pre-cut and installed on-site to minimize waste.
“It won’t be like a throwaway object like canvas that’s going to get ruined and fall into disrepair,” Zaghi says. “The unit will stand for 20 years on, so kids 20 years from now will enjoy it.”
As part of its mission to create healthier spaces, building outdoor classrooms is nothing new for Renson. But giving back to schools like the César Chávez Learning Center is something the company would like to do more of.
“It’s for such a good cause. Doing more of that is definitely a goal,” Skorda says. “That’s something we definitely want to push further.”
Zaghi agrees. “Giving kids the opportunity to learn outside and participate in class in nature is invaluable.”