Obama to Give All 4th Graders Free Admission to National Parks

By Liana Loewus — February 20, 2015 1 min read
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The President announced yesterday that, starting in September, all 4th grade students and their families will have free access to national parks and other public lands and waters for a year.

The “Every Kid in a Park” initiative coincides with the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, which takes place in 2016.

In a speech yesterday, President Obama said: “We want every 4th grader to have the experience of getting out and discovering America. We want them to see the outside of a classroom, too; see all the places that make America great.”

The initiative is also aimed at getting students outside—and off their electronic devices. The White House cites a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study finding that young people devote an average of more than seven hours a day to electronic media use. “Put down the smartphone for a second. Put away the video games. Breathe in some fresh air and see this incredible bounty that’s been given to us,” the president said in his speech.

The White House also announced it will help schools and families arrange trips to the parks “by providing key trip-planning tools and helping to cover transportation costs for schools with the greatest financial need.”

For teachers looking to incorporate the national parks (aka “America’s largest classrooms”) into their lessons, the National Park Service provides instructional materials by grade level, subject, and common-core standard here on its website.

A group of tourists at Yosemite National Park in California view a rock formation known as Half Dome from Glacier Point in 2005.—AP

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.