August 30, 2023, Ottawa, Ontario – When there are barriers to bringing students to the lake, you need to find a way to bring the lake to them.
This was the case for Watersheds Canada and its second year of delivering classroom programming for elementary students at two Ottawa inner-city schools, W.E. Gowling Public School and Carleton Heights Public School. Eight classes in total, reaching over 170
students and teachers, received curriculum-linked units on the growth and changes in animals and plants.
One participating teacher found the relevance of local fish and the stewardship element so important to their students and found that the lesson materials weaved seamlessly into their unit.
“I teach a very diverse class and these modules were accessible to all of the students”, the teacher said. “Every student could name the species, describe the characteristics of a fish, and describe their habitat and ways to protect it by the end of the module!”
Children do not require extensive background knowledge or experience in nature to become environmental stewards. What is important is that they are given an equal opportunity to explore nature at their own pace and to explore their own passions.
The “Bringing Nature in the Classroom” project was specifically developed for New Canadian and English Language Learner (ELL) students. It focused on species familiarization and identification by using art, play-based learning, and service-learning projects.
The free program reduced geographic, financial, experiential, and knowledge-based barriers for students to learn about local species and take action. This project was generously funded by the Ottawa Community Foundation and TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.
This free program was especially beneficial to RAISE (Resource Allocation Index based on Socioeconomics) schools that participate in fewer programs and field trips based on financial needs. Both participating schools are situated in highly urbanized areas meaning students often do not see local wildlife species commonly found in freshwater areas like lakes.
“Thank you again for providing my class with this fantastic program”, said one of the participating teachers. “The students really enjoyed the modules and were still talking about and making connections to them months after we had moved on to other topics in
All resources from Watersheds Canada’s school programming are published free online. While the materials have specific curriculum links for the Ontario grade 1, 3, and 4 science units, they can easily be adapted for younger or older audiences including informal education settings like nature groups and homeschooling.
About Watersheds Canada
Watersheds Canada is a national non-profit charitable organization that works with landowners, students, communities, and organizations to enhance and protect lakes and rivers through developing effective and transferable long-term solutions. Watersheds Canada envisions people caring for their waters, resulting in clean, healthy lakes and rivers to support humans and wildlife for years to come. Learn more at Watersheds.ca
Communications and Fundraising Manager
seidel (at) watersheds.ca