The Arlington Outdoor Education Association is a public non-profit corporation who owns and manages the land and facilities of the Outdoor Lab. The Outdoor Lab comprises 126 acres of natural woodland, many miles of hiking trails, a stream-fed pond, numerous springs, and an open meadow. Most of the property is protected under conservation easements through the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.
Capital Planning for the next 50 years
The AOEA Board and Lab Staff are planning for capital improvements to keep the Outdoor Lab at the forefront of outdoor education for the next 50 years. Committees are assessing current needs, facility limitations, and land use options.
Nature Center & Emergency Bunk House (aka “Animal Lab”)
Built in 2010, this Leed Silver certified building houses the Outdoor Lab’s animals and provides space for students to learn.
The main level has display tanks and habitat for turtles, fish, frogs and snakes. It also stores educational materials for students to experience hands-on instruction.
The second level has open space for instruction and storage for education materials. During inclement weather, students can be moved to the upstairs of the lab for safe sleeping.
The outside observation decks offer views of nature and student seating areas.
Striker Cottage is the original building purchased in 1967 with the lab property. The cottage is a vintage ranch home that is the center of the Outdoor Lab with management, teaching and eating areas. The Cottage includes:
- indoor and outdoor student classroom & eating areas
- observation deck and boating/fishing storage
- professional kitchen for student meals
- staff offices, meeting, library, first aid and educational storage areas
- staff kitchen, auxiliary sleeping and bathing facilities
The Cottage has reached the end of its lifecycle and a replacement facility is being studied.
Overnight Tent Area
The Tent Area straddles a stream with about 15 tent platforms per side. A campfire a ring, an instructional area, an activity area and tent storage shed round out the location.
The Outdoor Lab provides tents and tent platforms for Fifth Grade Overnights and Summer Camps. For overnights, students are shown how to use teamwork to erect their tents, install the provided sleeping pads and keep their tents clean. Tent Platforms are arranged in two groups along a stream, with plenty of space for Adult Chaperones to have their own tents among the students.
(Parents- after the Overnight, ask your students about the “Burrito”)
Bathroom & Showers
The Outdoor Lab has sufficient student bathroom facilities at the center of all buildings. Showers are available for Summer Camps (not Overnights)
Tiny Houses (Lab Staff Housing)
To meet an immediate need for lab staff housing, especially during 5th grade overnights, the AOEA Board brought in two Tiny Houses. Each house provides two sleeping quarters and bathroom facilities.
With over Forty overnights each year, the Tiny Houses help Lab Staff continue to deliver their incredible programs.
The Boat Dock is used to safely launch the Outdoor Lab’s fleet of canoes and kayaks onto Champs pond.
The docks are able to rise and fall with the level of the pond because they are supported by floating blocks.
The Angling Center of the Outdoor Lab, this two-tier pier is alongside the pond and allows up to eight students to practice their catch and release skills.
The Outdoor Lab provides all fishing poles and tackle; using old-school “cane” poles and bobbers with barbless hooks. (Which are better for releasing fish safely and for the errant cast near fellow anglers.)
Students often catch bluegill or bass in the pond and have pond-side view of other animals including turtles, frogs, snakes and various water birds.
Built by Lab Staff circa 2017, the roughly 92 sq ft pier reduces the pond bank erosion caused by many feet excitedly standing on the grassy bank.
Stream Learning Station
A favorite of students, the stream stations provide easy entry alongside or into the stream to catch and study various critters.
Springs and Vernal Pools
The Outdoor Lab property has many natural springs that feed Trapp’s Run and supported early families and livestock that lived in the area.
There are also vernal pools dotted throughout the landscape that provide natural habitat for many amphibians.
A natural classroom built by Lab Staff to provide outdoor education space, the Little Georgetown Pike Amphitheater is in a clearing under mature trees and near our stream and a vernal pool.
Situated adjacent to the main road through the Lab Property and named for the way to historic Little Georgetown on the other side of the mountain.
Meadows Science Center
The Meadows Science Center is situated in the middle of our meadows and includes a variety of buildings, shelters and learning stations.
Observatory & Renewable Energy Station
The Observatory, one of the oldest science stations at the Outdoor Lab, is a concrete block building with a sliding metal roof that opens to allow 360 degree views of the night sky. It houses Telescopes for Astronomy study that take advantage of reduced light pollution.
In the same building is a Renewable Energy Learning station with connected Weather instruments, Solar Panel, Wind Turbine and Battery storage.
Meadow Ecology Station
Near the Observatory are succession strips which are mowed on a rotating schedule to allow students to see how nature reclaims farmland.
Education Shelter and Firepit
The Education Shelter and Fire Pit allow students to focus on studies far from our other building by providing shelter from sun and rain and warmth by the fire.
At the edge of the meadow is a vintage Privvy or Outhouse that allows students to experience living truly off grid.
Biscuit and Pond Mountains
The Mountain Gap
The Outdoor Lab property includes a Gap between Pond and Biscuit Mountains that has been used by people and animals to easily cross the mountain range for Millennia.
During the Civil War the Gap was named for an early landholder Alfred Glascock. Civil War general JEB Stuart used the Gap during the civil war.
Trapp’s Run is a spring stream that starts West of the Mountains, cuts through the Gap and eventually joins Broad Run.
Created by damming Trapp’s Run, this 2.5 acre pond is the center of the outdoor lab
The Outdoor Lab keeps our meadow mowed to show students how it would have looked when used as a pasture.