Columbia Valley students take their classrooms outdoors

Wildsight hosted a series of outdoor classroom experiences for area kids

This school year, 111 Grade 4-7 students from Windermere Elementary, J.A. Laird and other Rocky Mountain schools put their pencils in their pockets and marched deep into the wild world of their own backyards with Wildsight’s Classroom With Outdoors program. As the name suggests, students stepped away from their desks and headed outside on day-long field trips to their local wetland or forest at Wilmer and Dorothy Lake.

“When the class heads outdoors, students immerse themselves in the natural world and learn to interpret the complex systems of life in their local environment, in line with the new BC curriculum,” says Monica Nissen, Wildsight’s Education Manager. “These powerful lessons tend to stick, because they are hands-on and fun.”

This school year, over 2000 students from around the Columbia Basin headed out the door to investigate local ecosystems. Taking the learning outside makes the lessons they learn real for young minds in ways that a textbook never will.

Classroom with Outdoors takes students from Grade 4 to Grade 7 out into their natural surrounding to experience the intricacies of their ecosystems first hand. Grade 4 students focus on the magic found in nature, learning new ideas like ecosystems and photosynthesis, and how living things respond to their environment, in a fun and enchanting way. For the Grade 5s, it’s all about the web of life and the complex interconnections between producers, consumers and decomposers and how materials from the Earth can be used as natural resources. Grade 6 students explore their local ecosystem through the eyes of a travelling alien scientist, learning about the biological systems within living things. And in Grade 7, students investigate ecological principles, the diversity of life and learn valuable lessons from a teacher ever wiser and older than their own teacher — mother nature herself!

“Wildsight would like to thank all the teachers, schools, volunteers and funders that make Classroom With Outdoors possible,” adds Nissen, “including the Columbia Basin Trust, Columbia Power Corporation, BC Gaming and Fortis BC.”

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