Teacher Science Camp

On August 16-18th the GCA Education Team piloted our new Teacher Science Camp; a 3-day professional development weekend for science teachers at the Millard Learning Centre. Ten teachers from Vancouver and Vancouver Island joined GCA educators Ria Okuda and Emily Francis to learn techniques in interactive outdoor learning and renewable energy education. 

Day 1 was  jam-packed with a tour of the 188-acre Learning Centre where teachers were introduced to the many programs the GCA offers onsite. Through a sense-based exploration and journaling activity – teachers learned how to connect (and by extension how to connect their students) with the forest through smell, touch, hearing, taste and sight. 

‘I loved it! Super knowledgeable instruction, flexibility, approachable, local topics, so many cool ideas, great location and food, great guests!’ -Science teacher k-12

‘Overall my experience was well beyond my expectations. I have 25 years of teaching experience and have had many ProD experiences, some good and some not so good. These last 3 days have by far been some of the best (not just because of the great food!) inspiring, informative and fun!’ -Gogae Nanda Gr 8-10 Science, Gr. 11-12 Biology

We finished off day one in the beautiful Forest Garden where Cedana Bourne our Agriculture Coordinator lead a “Teaching Train” – a technique taught to us by ethnobotanist Nancy Turner, where teachers taught eachother. They got dirty building a “lasagna” garden bed – which can turn any school blacktop into a pollinator-loving, food-producing garden space. The “lasagna” soil-bulking technique alternates carbon and nitrogen-rich layers key to plant growth. These layers can be made from simple and cheap materials including: cardboard, coffee grounds, yard waste and seaweed making lasagna beds a quick and affordable class project.

On Day 2 we jumped into the Renewable Energy in Action program – where teachers delved into fun energy-object association games and experimented with properties of light with colour wheels, lasers, infrared & UV lights and more! Many laughs were had while teachers put their peddle-to-the-metal blending smoothies and generating light on our renewable energy bikes. 

‘Concrete models for abstract concepts (e.g. electricity), various STEM activities and games/exercises that got students engaged and thinking while moving and experiencing the topic’ -Ceri Gr. K-12

In the afternoon, many of the teachers took a 3 hour kayak tour with Gulf Islands Kayaking and were able to experience the beauty of Galiano from the water. That evening Risa Smith (GCA Chair and IUCN Protected Areas Climate Change Specialist Group Co-Chair) met the teachers and gave an inspiring talk on Land-Based Solutions to Climate Change.

On Day 3, with help from Galiano’s local solar expert, Tom Mommsen, we provided teachers some perspective on how to integrate solar thermal and photo-voltaic experiments into their classrooms.  To wrap up the day, teachers were introduced to a STEM-building wind turbine design challenge activity, and given some insights on how to speak about the pros and cons of current renewable energy technologies in relation to environmental effects and their impacts on climate change.  

We had an overwhelming positive response from all of the teachers many of whom and not expected much from the weekend. They were so impressed by the amount of planning and thought that went in to each activity and the learning outcomes which they can bring back to their classrooms. Some of the teachers are planning to bring their class to one of the GCA’s education programs in the coming Spring!

We would love to send out a huge thank you to all the teachers who attended this pilot and we plan to have another teacher ProD camp in August 2020! Keep checking our website for updates and let your teacher friends know when it comes up!

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