Grade 6 Outdoor School – Systems
In Gr. 6, a focus on systems provides the conceptual framework that ties together the 5 different field studies that students experience during their 4 day program. The Big Idea connecting these field studies is that ‘organisms rely on systems to survive, reproduce, and interact with their environment.’ The systems concept is extended into the final day’s all-group activity of Predator and Prey where students engage and reflect on the interconnectedness of natural systems. Additional framing for the Outdoor School program is provided through Cheakamus Centre’s Guiding Principles that provide a framework that informs the overall program design and student experience. More information on the guiding principles and how these connect and support curriculum competencies can be found in the ODS Teacher’s Guide.
Grade 6 – Systems
Field Study - Forest
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).
Field Study - Farm
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?
Field Study - Birds
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).
Field Study - Pond
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.