Environmental Learning

Outdoor School | Unit Plans | Field Studies | Resources

Grade 4 – Senses

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Field Study - Forest

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Students venture through the Cheakamus Centre’s extensive trail networks to experience the biodiversity of the coastal temperate rainforest through hands-on sensory awareness activities. These activities increase the ability to observe and be present in nature, emphasize getting to know local species and their habitats, and inspire local action and stewardship. In addition to learning about the interconnectedness of the plant and animal species, students will also explore human interactions with the forest environment, and the important role they play in our lives.

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Field Study - Farm

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In the Farm Field Study students will use their sense of touch, hearing, smelling and seeing as they participate in this Farm Field study. Our goal is to sense and respond to our environment as we learn about the animals on the farm and as we learn about some of their sensational senses.  As you visit the animals, students will observe and interact with the animals while they learn about how the senses of these animals compare to our senses.

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Field Study - Birds

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In this field study, students explore the ways that birds sense and respond to their environment. Students will examine the structures and functions of the body parts associated with each of the five senses. They will also investigate how birds respond to changes in their habitat. Students will explore the Indigenous worldview with respect to the symbolism for many of the common birds we will study as will as the recognition of the interconnectedness of all things and the responsibility to care for them Students will also go into the field and make observations of birds, using their own senses to see and hear the birds around them.

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Field Study - Pond

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In this field study, students will participate in a bioblitz, an event that focusses on finding and identifying as many organisms as possible within a certain time frame. First, students will explore a pond ecosystem and search for interesting organisms. Next, students will use a Pond ID Card to identify which organisms are in the pond. Then, each student will select an organism to study and ask questions that can be answered through observation alone. They ask simple questions about the organism’s obvious structures, then move onto questions about organism’s behavior, habitat and relationships to other organisms. Students share out with partners and then the whole group how pond organisms sense and respond to their environment (Reference: Beetles). Finally, students participate in citizen science by sharing their data with other field study groups.

Grade 6 – Systems

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Field Study - Forest

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In this field study, students will assume the role of detectives faced with a nature mystery in the coastal temperate rainforest. First, they explore a decomposing log and look for evidence of how the log is changing. They make possible explanations for what might be causing the log to disappear. Students then learn about common “suspects” – organisms that decompose wood, – how these organisms rely on internal systems to survive, reproduce & interact in the environment, and the signature evidence they each leave behind. In teams, students use a Disappearing Log Key to identify which organisms might have left behind evidence, and use this information to make explanations about what has happened to the log since it was a tree. Finally, using a systems approach, students learn that the log isn’t really disappearing, it’s turning into gases that are part of the cycling of matter in all ecosystems (Reference: BEETLES).

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Field Study - Farm

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The Cheakamus Centre has a teaching farm, used to introduce students to a variety of animals used on a farm for food, products and pets. Students can study about the concept of Farm to Table, learn about sustainable food production and biology, including adaptation and reproductive systems. This Farm Field Study will focus Systems within a farm setting. We see many systems at play and are interested in some of these questions: how is the organism is a system; how do the animals interact; and how do we interact with animals?

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Field Study - Birds

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In this field study, students explore the ways birds interact with their environment and birds’ adaptions to maximize their ability to gain energy (food resources). Students investigate the connection between the form and function of bird beaks and feet. In the lab they will develop and test hypotheses about the best beak “form” for feeding on a variety of food substitutions. They identify taxidermy specimens of birds and hypothesize what they eat based on the shape of their beaks. Students then go into the field and make observations of birds. Through a time study, students observe how birds interact with their environment. Students learn to identify birds in the wild, and to determine the age of eagles (in season).

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Field Study - Pond

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In this field study, students will participate in a bioblitz, an event that focusses on finding and identifying as many organisms as possible within a certain time frame. First, students will explore a pond ecosystem and search for interesting organisms. Next, students will use a dichotomous key to identify which organisms are in the pond. Then, each student will select an organism to study and ask questions that can be answered through observation alone. They ask simple questions about the organism’s obvious structures, then move onto questions about organism’s behavior, habitat and relationships to other organisms. Students share out with partners and then the whole group how a pond organism relies on internal systems to survive, reproduce & interact in the environment (Reference: Beetles). Finally, students use collected data to make explanations about water quality, discuss some threats to wetlands, and examine their personal connection to water systems.