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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET providing high-quality experiences with STEM for all learners in order to close the achievement gap, simply because it’s the right thing to do. ALL CHILDREN DESERVE HIGH-QUALITY STEM EDUCATION Using nature as a context for STEM learning can have positive, far-reaching implications. Children living in disadvantaged circumstances are likely to have increased anxiety and experience continuous high levels of stress as a result of trauma, high mobility, food insecurity, and other conditions. The positive effects of time spent in nature on well-being—such as reduced anxiety, improved peer- to-peer relationships, and self-confidence—can help children struggling with these issues as well. While educators are beginning to realize that access to nature is a social justice issue, so too is access to a high-quality STEM education. All young children have a natural tendency to explore, to ask questions, to investigate, to create and test things out, and to seek patterns and order in the world. These are characteristics associated with the practices and habits of mind inherent in STEM learning. Increased time spent in natural settings also leads to more-cohesive classrooms and stronger social-emotional development, and offers additional benefits to children’s mental health. An increasing number of early care and education providers want to take children outdoors more often and see real value in nature-based learning. There are many ways to partake in the benefits of nature-based learning and play. 16  Chapter 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL