The core mission of the grant has been the development and research of its project-based Exploration Model for teaching and learning that incorporates best practices from formal and informal education. The model combines the study of authentic resources with hands-on inquiry to engage learners in higher-order thinking about the connections and interactions between humans, history, and the natural world. Wherever possible, the model integrates new or advanced technology into instruction to improve technology literacy and enhance the individuals involvement in learning.
The NatureShift Web site is the primary method for disseminating the program materials and model. It creates an immersive learning environment designed around the Exploration model. It provides space to interactively explore authentic resources and instruction, try out real-world hands-on activities, and discover new knowledge. There are five worlds of learning, each offering a unique on-line Exploration for individuals, classes, or community groups to investigate.