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“Do We Have to Go Outside?”

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“Do We Have to Go Outside?”

One of the many things that I have learned about my students over the course of the year is that they are not too fond of the outdoors.  I am going to assume that they may be the only group of students in the school that jump for joy once discovered that it will be indoor recess.  I constantly inform them that they will regret not taking advantage of the 45 minutes they receive every day as it will not be the same once they reach the secondary level.

“Miss. C, why don’t we have Nature Walks in our schedule?” – S. K.

“That is a good question.”

“Last year, the David Suzuki Foundation conducted a survey with young Canadians and found that 70 per cent spend an hour or less a day outdoors. The 2012 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card says they spend almost eight hours a day in front of screens. So it’s not that kids don’t have time to be outside. It’s just not part of their lifestyle.”

To be honest, I wish that I had the same desire for nature that my parents did when I was growing up.  Our home was filled with all types of plants and greenery.  They would come home every few weeks with a brand new plant in hand with great joy and enthusiasm ready to give it life.  I share this experience because as an educator, I feel that I need to be able to see the prospective in a subject area in order to deliver it to my students comfortably.  I need to see the potential for the concepts and I need the assurance that they will leave them with the same notion.

Over the next few months, I look forward to implementing and discovering nature with my students.  This will be a very interesting process since I feel that I will be able to relate to each of them directly from different perspectives. I am gradually beginning to learn about the importance of nature and the value that it adds to our living space.

One aspect of the Reggio Emilia Approach is the great emphasis of incorporating nature within the learning environment.  Natural materials can be organized within the classroom for the students to connect with and/or they can be taken outdoors with some intention.

With the Grade 6/7s, I have realized that it is about the provocation.  It is about building the interest and the passion for the content.  It is about taking part in authentic experiences – ones that will remain with them and teach them life lessons in the long run.  So how do I plan to get middle my middle school students interested in nature? 

Tomatosphere.

Tomatosphere is a program that will inspire students to investigate the effects of the space environment on the growth of food.  What is the “optimal condition” to grow tomatoes in outer space that can support long-term human space travel?

As a class, we will be provided with both treated and un-treated tomato seeds.  We will not know which of the provided seeds have been in space and/or if they even have been treated until the germination process is complete.

This experiment ties in beautifully with our space inquiry, as it will allow each of them to:

  • Learn about the difference of growing plants in space versus on Earth
  • Learn about the challenges of long-term space travel
  • Learn about the requirements for life support systems for astronauts
  • Participate in national data collection science project with a hands-on inquiry component
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