The Larry F. Sobotka Science Discovery and Outdoor Learning Center is an outdoor classroom facility where students and educators have access to state-of-the-art facilities and a lush natural environment for versatile learning on campus.

The center is open to use by IUP students, faculty, local community educators, members of the community, and local groups such as garden clubs and scout troops.

This 7,150-square-foot facility consists of a large pavilion with seating for instructional presentations, projection and presentation equipment, and cabinets for storage of materials.


The Discovery Center has four areas for outdoor environmental instruction and exploration. This helps educate students about natural resources and wildlife habitat and land and water conservation—a topic that is increasingly becoming critical in today's world. Below is a look at these four distinct areas.

  • The Touch and Smell Garden provides students the opportunity to study plants by using their senses.
  • The Pennsylvania Habitat Garden allows for the study of native plants in their natural habitat and the discovery of their interrelationship with animals and other vegetation native to the area.
  • The Water Garden has a pond filled with animals such as fish, frogs, toads, and insects. Birds, insects, and small mammals are naturally attracted to the pond.
  • The Succession/Research Garden is allowed to flourish undisturbed and is being observed for natural change time.

Our center is all about Pennsylvania. From the plants located around the center to the unique water feature, students will be able to learn about insects and animals that can be found throughout the Commonwealth. Even the walk areas have been uniquely designed to expose learners to tracks from different animals common to Pennsylvania.

Meghan Twiest, director of the Center and faculty member in the Professional Studies in Education Department, talks about how "Young children will understand that the marks in the sidewalk are animal tracks. Older students will not only identify what animals made the tracks but can also do an analysis of what the tracks mean—whether the animal was running or walking, for example."

Schedule a classroom, donate to the center, request information, or view our gallery

For IUP students

For Local Educators

For IUP faculty

For the community