monte del sol students collage outdoor experiences
Nobody knows how to do it

Experiential + Outdoor Education


Monte del Sol is committed to the idea that students learn best when they are actively engaged with the content they are studying. Experiential education incorporates project- and  inquiry-based learning, interdisciplinary curricula, hands-on experiences, reflection, and real-world learning through trips and field work.

Research conducted on these types of pedagogy support the idea that students achieve better learning outcomes if they are engaged in experiential education, when contrasted with traditional instructional methods.

"Outdoor education and play support emotional, behavioral and intellectual development. Studies have shown that students who learn outdoors develop: a sense of self, independence, confidence, creativity, decision-making and problem-solving skills, empathy towards others, motor skills, self-discipline and initiative."

Outdoor Education

Monte del Sol has featured outdoor education since its move to the Nava Ade location, including many on-site outdoor activities from gardening, building, and outdoor sports and fitness to using sunlight in pinhole cameras and non-silver printing in photography. Outdoor education has been a highlight of our ongoing collaboration with expedition partner, Cottonwood Gulch.

Our three-night expedition for the junior class through the northwest corner of New Mexico, with a day at Chaco National Historical Park is a highly anticipated interdisciplinary yearly event. Our students experience the significant historical and majestic site of Chaco Canyon and the layers of history in the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness as they also learn about the environmental encroachment by fracking in this fragile and culturally significant part of our state community.

Along with the focus on sustainability, some other outdoor activities have included: our seventh-grade incoming students’ yearly climb to the top of Monte Del Sol peak (our school namesake), yearly overnight camp-outs near Pecos, NM with our high school; and ongoing hikes and outdoor field trips in science and humanities. Monte del Sol also has a Ski Program during the winter months.We are excited to offer their Students in Wilderness Initiative (SIWI) again to our eighth-grade students, immersing them in outdoor experiences and wild places throughout our state

Experiential Education

Our focus on experiential education is displayed across our entire curriculum. Some recent examples of experiential, interdisciplinary and project-based education include:

MdS Land Restoratoin Project

Students in Wilderness Initiative (8th grade)

El Otro Lado, (Art, Oral History, Teacher training)

Water Hummingbird House Collaboration (art, poetry, personal history)

Anne Frank Exhibit ( Hosted by MdS, ninth grade students were exhibition docents)

Future Studies Project (8th grade Future Studies)

River Ecology (Trout release) (8th grade Science)

River Source Collaborative Projects (Sustainability Courses, Wildlife Science)

Pinhole Cameras (MS Photo, Photography I)

Physics Egg Car Crash (9th grade Physics)

Illuminated Manuscripts (9th grade English and Art)

The Peace Museum (10th grade Humanities)

Chaco Canyon Sustainability Project (11th grade)

Clean Water Project/Fieldwork (Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science)

Coordinate Plane Transformations Visualized through Art (Geometry)

Architecture & Building (Geometry & Trades Math)

Water Fiesta- teaching elementary school students about water (Chemistry)

2018 Mayoral Forum (US Government)

2019 Legislative Session Project (US Government, Economics)

Personal Finance with Enterprise Bank (Financial Literacy)

Geodome Greenhouse Work (Intro to Sustainability, Trades Math, AP

Environmental Science)

Culinary Program (Culinary I, Culinary II, MS Garden Integration)

NHS Blood Drive (11th & 12th grade Nat’l Honor Society)

NHS Food Depot (11th & 12th grade Nat’l Honor Society)

Santa Fe River and Stream Health (AP Environmental Science)

The Reality Fair (Financial Literacy, Pre Calculus)

Controlled Agriculture Environments (Biology, Sustainability)

Complex System Modeling (Computer Science)

RESOLVE NM Speak up/Speak out bystander intervention (preventing violence, transforming communities)


In Mentorship, students are matched with adults in the community who help them discover their curiosity and love of learning as they build skills and capacities in an area of their choosing. Mentorships are experiential in nature and demonstrate the power of relational learning as students grow through the experience and example of their Mentor as an important adult in their world. Many Mentorships include outdoor fields of study such as horseback riding and horse care, rock climbing, archery and bow-hunting and multiple sport disciplines. Mentorships have also included fencing, welding, Folklorico dance, children’s book illustration, technical theater, EMT firefighting, film and visual media, marine biology, voice, culinary arts and animation.