Over our 50 years at the Outdoor Lab, students, classes, staff and guest scientists have researched many topics.  Below are highlights of some of these project

Outdoor Lab BioDiversity Inventory- iNaturalist

Kicking off during summer 2021, the Outdoor Lab is leveraging open-source data gathering tool iNaturalist

The Outdoor Lab Biodiversity Inventory Project will allow students, families and guests to act as “citizen scientists” and add important scientific observations to our effort to document all species of flora and fauna at the Outdoor Lab. 

This new data will be added to over 50 years of observations from Lab Staff.  We’re working to digitize and integrate this trove of data.

Check back soon for more info.

Stream Health Studies- Macro Invertebrates

Students and Lab Staff sampled the streams at the Outdoor Lab and recorded the Macro Invertebrates observed as a data source for stream health.  

Students compared their data with samples taken near their home schools in Arlington.

Spotted Salamanders

Neil Heinekamp, former Outdoor Lab Co-Director, led a multi-year study on spotted salamanders or yellow-spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum).

ODL Staff, Students and Volunteers collected, measured and documented spotted salamanders as they emerged each year.

The spotted salamanders became so beloved we adopted them as our Outdoor Lab mascot!


The research continues… More info on the research coming soon.

  • 2017 Neil research
    2017 Neil research
  • kids with salamander eggs
    kids with salamander eggs
  • salamanders trapped in 2013
    salamanders trapped in 2013
  • salamanders in container
    salamanders in container
  • 29th spotted salamander found at Hunsucker Spring in 2013
    29th spotted salamander found at Hunsucker Spring in 2013
  • salamander study megan
    salamander study megan
  • spotted salamander in lab
    spotted salamander in lab

Eastern Box Turtles

Outdoor Lab staff and students observed native Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina), marked their shells for identification, and noted their location and date/time.  The study was done over multiple years and is on-going.

Did you know?

Box Turtles stay in the same area for their entire lives?

Learn More Here

Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas

In the mid- to late-1980s, Virginia conducted its first Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA) project to assess the status and distribution of breeding bird populations. In 2015, the second Virginia BBA project started, with David Ledwith adding observed birds from the Outdoor Lab.

More info can be found here.

Insect Inventory

Veteran Smithsonian researchers conducted a multi-year study sampling insect diversity at the Outdoor Lab.  

They constructed insect traps near our stream, collected their data  and created a mount board of insects observed.


Insect Mount Board