The Nature Explore Classroom at

Becky Gates Children’s Center
at Texas A&M University

The Becky Gates Children’s Center (BGCC) is housed in the School of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M University and has strived to provide high-quality learning experiences for children since 1998. One key component of accomplishing our mission is outdoor learning, so we sought an innovative makeover of our 39,000-square-foot playground to realize our dream of a nature-based outdoor classroom.

We started by taking design suggestions from our teaching staff and children. Then, in 2018, our leadership team collaborated with faculty and students from the Texas A&M College of Architecture to assess, visualize and create designs for nature-based playgrounds. The final student designs became part of our 20th-anniversary celebration. BGCC representatives highlighted preferred elements from those designs before meeting with students from the Master of Landscape Architecture program to create a cohesive design. Texas A&M leadership saw the design and decided to fund the $750,000 renovation.

We broke ground in February 2021. Our children could see the progress and interact with the construction crew while still having plenty of green space to serve as their temporary playground. Then, on September 3, 2021, we hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open our new outdoor classrooms. Those classrooms are now used every day by our children, as well as for family gatherings and events, including our 25th-anniversary celebration in October of 2023.

We are grateful for the team effort that made this dream possible, including our families who donated materials and built garden beds. We are also thankful for the College of Architecture students and professors Mike Teal and Dr. Kenneth Hurst, who were a part of the process from start to finish.

Our nature-based outdoor classrooms are beautiful and exemplifies our commitment to early learning.


1125 Hensel Drive
College Station, TX 77840