For Mr. Macleod’s grade six students at Black River Public School in Sutton, participation in the Environmental Leaders of Tomorrow program became the spark for a much larger cross-curricular, multifaceted action project.
After their visit to Lake St. George Field Centre in January, students were inspired and eager to improve the natural environment at their school. This school was also chosen to be part of a pilot project funded by First Book Publications, BMO and Compugen to support student learning through the use of technology. Through this funding, each student in the class received their very own Chromebook to keep.
Using the overarching theme of “agents of change,” students began their inquiry project by using their laptops to research environmental topics of interest to them. Topics included bats, bees, amphibians, compost, garden, birds, butterflies and polar bears/climate change. In small groups, the students used their laptops to develop an infographic and an interactive slide deck on their topic of interest.
As the knowledge and curiosity of the students grew, so did the depth of their action project. They engaged other students at their school by leading a knowledge-sharing circle with some of the younger grades. They also partnered with another local school that also received technology funding.
Students at both schools met for a day of collaboration to share their presentations and learn how to provide positive and constructive feedback to each other. Students returned to the classroom to polish their presentations in preparation for a special parent information night in May where they had the opportunity to host their families at the school, present their inquiry questions and showcase their work.
In addition to knowledge sharing with fellow students, neighbouring schools and parents, the students were also eager to make use of our Schoolyard Biodiversity Grant to increase the natural habitat in their schoolyard.
Since the school is part of a much larger multi-use complex that includes the local Catholic elementary school and a municipal community centre, the students soon discovered the extent of effort and leadership required to prompt change in their local environment.
They did not shy away from the challenge. With the guidance of their teacher, students attended and presented their plan to the facility’s multi-use steering committee.
With the full support of all parties, the students got the go-ahead to plant a pollinator garden. They also received permission to install bird feeders, bird houses, bat boxes and hummingbird feeders.
The students considered every aspect of their proposal, including the establishment of a partnership with the Town of Georgina to jointly maintain the newly planted gardens. Students also managed to find time to set up a new composting bin and organic waste collection program for the Black River Public School community.
The extensive action project undertaken by Black River Public School is an exceptional example of how natural and environmental science can be successfully embedded in all facets of education and can result in a deeper learning experience for students.
It was clear that the students had a strong grasp of the concepts learned during their participation in the Environmental Leaders of Tomorrow program and had gained the confidence to apply what they had learned in real-world settings.
“Here, birdy, birdy!” The grade 6 students from Scarborough’s St. Henry Catholic School who visited Claremont Field Centre in November 2014 based their action project on birds.
After researching local and endangered bird species, they decided to install two bird feeders in their schoolyard. The students have taken responsibility for refilling the feeders, keeping them clean, and monitoring the biodiversity.
The school community of roughly 330 staff and students has enjoyed observing all the birds that visit the feeders too! With a hawk as school mascot and a great action project, St. Henry really IS all about the birds!
The Elmbank Junior Middle Academy Children’s Garden was greatly enhanced with the support of our Schoolyard Biodiversity Grant.
In partnership with the PACT Urban Peace Program, “Grow to Learn”, the Elmbank Grade 6 students established an edible, native plant garden in the existing children’s’ outdoor classroom and garden.
The project incorporated plantings of currant, gooseberry, blueberry, and raspberry bushes.
Ever heard of a “MOEnarch Garden”?
Grade 6 students from St. John Vianney Catholic School chose this creative name for their new schoolyard butterfly garden, after meeting Moe and his staff at the Albion Hills Field Centre during a three-day visit in April 2014.
Students conducted research about monarchs, built the raised-bed garden shown here, and, after planting swamp milkweed and butterfly weed, took responsibility for watering, weeding and other maintenance.
Congratulations to these Schoolyard Biodiversity Grant recipients for their work in supporting local pollinators!
The class designed and implemented a plan which included planting 28 native species such as bee balm and purple coneflower, and mulching for weed control and moisture retention.
The garden has served not only to increase biodiversity and attract pollinators, but has also beautified the entrance to the school, benefiting the entire school community.
Congratulations to Stewart Avenue for their amazing work in increasing biodiversity!
The class used the Schoolyard Biodiversity Grant to create a sensory garden with strawberries, onions and various herbs. The garden is meant to be touched, smelled, tasted, and felt.
The students also planted native wildflowers such as butterfly weed and milkweed to attract pollinators, and transplanted wild grasses along the kindergarten fence to help green the space and prevent litter from collecting.
Enhancing and improving their Serenity Garden was truly a team effort for this St. Lawrence Catholic Elementary School in Hamilton.
Grade 6 students and their teachers worked with the Garden Club to plan, plant and maintain a variety of native wildflowers and shrubs to increase biodiversity and attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
Support for this greening project came from a number of partners, including the Royal Botanical Gardens, which offered advice on plant selection, and the City of Hamilton, which provided in-kind donations of materials, as well as numerous local families.
Congratulations to the students at St. Lawrence for taking environmental action!