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Learning naturally

June 14, 2016
Evan Kirk (left) concentrates intensely as his butterfly is about to take flight. Ri Ming Su, a displaced Fort McMurray student, prepares to part with his butterfly.

Butterflies take flight
Grade 2 students at Bon Accord Community School observed the life cycle of butterflies for several weeks before releasing them in the schoolyard on Thursday, June 2.

After ordering a kit, the class received the butterflies as small larvae in a container of food. As the larvae ate and grew, they eventually crawled to the top of the container and formed J shapes, indicating that they were preparing to enter the chrysalis stage. After about a week to 10 days they emerged as butterflies within a netted enclosure in the classroom. After observing them for about a week, the students released the butterflies, which are indigenous to Alberta.

The school has run the program for about four years, but this was the first year that students put jam on their fingers so they could gently hold the butterflies before releasing them.

Fresh Air Friday
Dr. E.W. Coffin School, a small elementary school in Calgary’s Brentwood community, has implemented a new environmental program that has allowed students to experience outdoor place-based learning while meeting many curricular outcomes. Called Fresh Air Fridays, the outdoor learning initiative combines discipline-based tasks with outdoor education principles. The organizers report that these two frameworks have deepened students’ understanding within a real-world context while meeting curricular objectives in a holistic manner.

 Bill Gu analyzes a leaf.

Alison Yang and Juliana Jordan have fun with dandelions at Nose Hill Park.

Bug Guy brings friends for visit
Pete Heule of the Royal Alberta Museum (known as the Bug Guy) shares his knowledge with Grade 2 students at Landing Trail School in Gibbons on May 24.

 Avery Yardley gets up close and personal with a tarantula.

Life cycle of a chicken
In the spring, Condor School launched a project called Life Cycle of a Chicken. The program’s instructor is actually Grade 7 student Bryn Sebek, who has remarkable knowledge and experience with chickens because she breeds, hatches and raises them.

The project begins with Sebek bringing seven of her finest eggs to school. Then, aided by a PowerPoint presentation she created, over the course of 21 days students take an informative journey from laying to hatching. Based in the learning commons, the incubator and eggs are part of the regular library classes held there throughout the week. Although aimed at the Grade 1 curriculum, the project involves the entire student population due to the school’s small size.

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