New Sustainable Outdoor Learning Environment (SOLE) structure built at Tuolumne TK-8 earlier this year.

Modesto City Schools will kick off the 2023/2024 school year with a total of six outdoor learning environments to inspire the next generation of sustainability leaders. This summer, the district completed the construction of five Sustainable Outdoor Learning Environments (SOLEs) at Beard and Orville Wright Elementary Schools, Roosevelt Junior High School, and Downey and Gregori High Schools. The first SOLE structure was completed earlier this year at Tuolumne TK-8.

The new outdoor learning environments will be a welcomed addition at Modesto City Schools. The District receives more than 260 days of sunlight annually. While the sunshine typically provides ideal climate conditions, it can also be a double-edged sword. California residents have been affected by drought for several years and have gained a thorough understanding of the need for water frugality and sustainable lifestyles.

Modesto City Schools has prioritized sustainability initiatives designed to address climate change, reduce our carbon footprint, combat air pollution, and educate the next generation of students about a sustainable lifestyle—and that includes renewable energy.

The district has invested in several infrastructure upgrades including the electrification of our school bus fleet, the construction of vehicle charging stations, solar PV parking structures, and the transition to battery-powered maintenance equipment.

While these projects are critical to the District's sustainability journey, Modesto City Schools has taken the initiative a step further by investing in the construction of the new SOLES to help inspire the next generation of sustainability leaders.

The SOLEs offer classes, programs, and events that provide students with interactive Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) education while also creating a collaborative outdoor space for various activities. The primary objective is to educate and nurture future leaders in STEAM. By incorporating sustainable education into the curriculum, MCS will offer a stimulating learning experience that fosters practical skills and a deeper comprehension of engineering, energy, construction, and resource management. 

The structures feature solar power outlets with an approximate capacity of 40 peak kilowatts, suitable flooring, an ADA-accessible path, fans, and versatile furniture and technology options.

The District is excited to provide the new structures to students when they return to school on August 7.