Grade 7 students at East Three School got some hands-on education last week as students from both classes conducted scientific experiments and math problems while simultaneously learning traditional knowledge and setting up a safe camp.

The camp will be put to use next week for the elementary students, who will be learning a variety of lessons in Duck Lake park.

“The morning down there was spent setting camp, looking for traditional medicine, cutting wood and showing the students the differences between dry and wet wood,” said Justin Cormier, the On The Land co-ordinator. “In the afternoon, that’s when we broke out into the math and science lessons.”

Part of the ‘On The Land’ program, the Boot Lake camp has been happening for at least five years, but this was the first time the junior high program was involved in the building of the campsite.

Students were given presentations by specialists from Environment and Natural Resources, elders and the school’s teachers.

“Usually, it’s myself and staff members that set the camp, but this year we thought we would make a program setting camp,” said Cormier. “In the week leading up to this program, I met with the Grade 7 teachers to find out where they were in their curriculum and developed lessons for their units.”

One lesson the students applied creative land tools toward was integers. Students were given math problems to solve and given free rein on how to display them. In the end, they used larger sticks for positive integers and smaller sticks for negative ones.

Plant biology was also taught, allowing the students to see different examples of the basic parts of a plant in nature.

“It fit right in really nicely. I had five different scenarios and split the kids into groups,” said Cormier. “There was one on photosynthesis, one on erosion — each group was focused on scientifically how plants were important. There was also a group focused on traditional medicine.

“Each group was given time to become experts on their topic then we all gathered in the tent and each group presented what they had learned. I would say we covered close to an entire unit in an hour.”

Finally, the kids were taught to set up a safe camp, with a demonstration on how to set up a Fort McPherson canvas tent and then set up one themselves for the next campers.

While the junior high’s portion of the lesson is complete, Duck Lake will be bustling with activity for the rest of the month as the elementary students take over, using the camp the Grade 7 classes built.

The On the Land program runs all sorts of outdoor education activities for students in the area. Ranging from outdoor safety to navigation, students of all ages are able to take part in the program.

Field trips get more intense and smaller as the students get older, with high school students sometimes having to draw names out of a hat to get to more exotic trips into the bush.

“It’s one thing to learn this in a classroom, whereas out here you’re in an ecosystem and you’re experiencing these things first-hand.”

Eric Bowling

Your source for all things happening in the Beaufort Delta. Eric jumped at the chance to write for the Inuvik Drum after cutting his teeth in Alberta. He enjoys long walks, loud music and strong coffee....

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