Earth Matters National Conference
In October, 12 CBEEN members were supported in attending the Earth Matters National Environmental Education Conference in Canmore. With dozens of workshops attended, and connections made with many of the 300 participants from across Canada and around the world, participants came home with their heads and hearts full of ideas & inspiration!
Click on the links below for some of the key resources that our members picked up to share with you:
Object-based Inquiry Learning – objects central to developing the concepts which are essential to your unit of study.
Whispering Signs Project – ecological pedagogy in an outdoor alphabet.
Green Stem Network – connects students to the environment by monitoring and mining data from gardens, green roofs, and various types of green infrastructure.
Enhancing School Science with Indigenous Knowledge – What We Know from Teachers and Research
Bridging Cultures – Indigenous and Scientific Ways of Knowing
Here is a summary of some of the key learnings of our members:
Recreating on Public Lands workshop: One of the key things that I’m taking back with me as a useful reminder is to always connect the student learning to their own world and environment where they live. This relates to discuss the responsible use of motorized recreation which many of my students take part in. I need to make a connection with nature and mountain recreation activities with my students to how this would apply to their activities and environment where they recreate in the outdoors. I learned more about the world of motorized recreation with its environmental impacts broken down into water (quality deterioration, increased turbidity, altered direction of flow), soil (compaction, contamination, shoreline erosion), vegetation (growth restriction, spread of invasive plants, start of wildfires sue to the tail pipes heating up plants that were picked up by going through bogs before), fish (habitat and spawning affected through ground destruction, eggs getting covered by dirt), and wildlife (habitat destruction, wildlife distress, predator movement facilitation). Other considerations are social impacts (air quality, noise pollution, dust). – Sanne van der Ros, Golden
ecoSTEAM: In a session entitled, ecoSTEAM: Ecological contexts of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics Education, I learned more about the movement to integrate arts and science into 21st century learning, and to incorporate EE for cross-curricular competencies. The presenters provided some great examples of how to use current phenomena, like the recent ‘Super Moon’ eclipse and monarch butterfly migrations, to create an entry point into curricular connections to engage students. – Marcy Mahr, New Denver
Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature: At the Earth Matters Conference, I learned about a teaching resource titled Coyote’s Guide to Connecting With Nature and how to use a series of “core routines” found within this guide to help students and teachers alike connect more deeply with nature. I also learned how to begin incorporating the aboriginal ways of knowing and learning into my teaching practice.
BirdSleuth: I learned about BirdSleuth K-12, and popular birding Apps that will allow students K-12 and community members to feel that their observations count for something. Data is uploaded to eBird (a global database managed by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology) allowing students and citizens the ability to participate in real science. –Marcy Mahr, New Denver
Dandelion Stew workshop: This object-based learning session is hands-on, engages students into deeper learning through their natural curiosity. The process: Show an object (example: a skull, a worm, or a dandelion leaf) and let students explore it, touch/feel, discover, and make conclusions. Activity 1: students do a blind contour drawing of object, write a list of words to describe it, complete phrases “I wonder…” and “It reminds me of…”. Activity 2: Canadian Species Investigation: sketch object, observe the details of all of its features, describe what you notice, discuss, share. Activity 3: The Private Eye: Looking and thinking by analogy. Look at object with magnifier, observe, ask “What else does it remind me of?”, “What else does it look like?”, and “What else…?”. Share. Write 5-10 things and create a sandwich poem. – Sanne van der Ros, Golden
3 Conference Take-aways: 1 – Make memorable experiences. For kids, full body games, actions and experiences are some of the best teaching tools. 2 – Give people the opportunity to think through (a problem. Don’t just give them an answer. Especially for complex problems around the state of the world, how do we allow people’s natural curiosity to develop and lead them towards interesting and creative solutions? 3 – Create emotionally intelligent EE programs. Acknowledge that many of the topics we teach on are emotionally charged and allow people to feel and react. Emotionally Intelligent Environmental Engagement build in safety, gets real, expands identities and increases the capacity for change. – Melissa Flint, Creston
The biggest ‘take away’ is the need to think collaboratively, to bring different players to the table. In regards to environmental education, for instance, I got resources at this conference from Mining Matters and the Canadian Nuclear Association. Combining energy and the environment was an interesting partnership, and the need for collaboration between indigenous peoples’ learning and teachings with what’s status quo was highlighted. BC’s new curriculum was explained, broad stroke, which includes many great opportunities to include EE. And the need to think differently (i.e. including some song and dance to “traditional” sage-on-the-stage interpretive programs) was my last session. – Mary Searchfield, Nelson
Importance of networking: The Earth Matters conference in Canmore was a good reminder of the importance of networking for the sake of information sharing, but also for expert-empowerment. Nurturing connections between EE experts within and between local communities is key to enabling the development of EE collaborations and educational programs within communities. Connections mean support, idea-sharing, and the possibility for amazing innovations that may never have happened without them. The recent work on EE in the BC curriculum is a good example of the power of connections between local experts. They each brought an EE idea-spark to the table that, together, became one shining EE star within the new BC Education Plan. As a few of the conference speakers pointed out, we need a paradigm shift within our society. We need to change our traditions, ways of thinking, and ways of behaving. Collaboration between and within EE networks can make this happen. – Jane Powell, Golden
New BC Education Plan: As a presenter at the Earth matter conference, I worked with Duncan to deliver a session on the New BC Education Plan and the ways in which EE supports the new curriculum. It was insightful to hear others’ thoughts and contributions to the conversation, and to know what other EE practitioners are doing across the province. This conversation will continue to inform how we move ahead with Pro-D offerings and how we design, promote and deliver our EE programs in the Basin. – Monica Nissen, Nelson