Education Meets Fins in the Prairies
Whereas the public aquarium component is focused on immersive experiences and general knowledge, the Education Centre seeks to inspire generations of students and groups to a keen interest in the environment around them. The learning enjoyment of biological sciences and related STEM subjects is the focus for the Centre. Hands-on learning is engaging, is retained longer by creating an emotional tie to the experience and encouraging curiosity for further learning. When combined with live exhibit experiences, this effect can be even more profound.
“I need the sea because it teaches me.”
– Pablo Neruda
A separate area from the aquarium, this space will feature classrooms to support extended learning of Alberta Education directed curriculum programs of studies for preschool to grade 12. Combine the learning of specific ecosystems within the aquarium, with practical hands-on learning in the classroom, and it will bring aquatic ecosystems to life in a way that school classrooms cannot do. There will be basic classrooms, as well as some classrooms designed to engage the youngest learners, and other rooms will be configured for older learners in specialized laboratory rooms. These rooms will be made available to schools, groups and will be used in the Aquarium’s school break camps.
Support for students by way of internships, mentorships, placements and other projects, are some of the planned mechanisms of engagement for secondary and post-secondary students. Adult continued education programming is also part of the programming being considered.
Let’s talk about teachers for a moment. We love our school teachers. They work so hard for their students and the Education Centre will be there to support them. Online materials will be developed for access by teachers that include supporting materials for pre- and post-field trip excursions, in-class use of games, information, presentations, etc. We will be looking at ways to provide extended professional development within this subject realm too.
Programs and spaces specific to children (and adults) with special needs are in discussion. We are committed to developing a facility of inclusion. As this is a more intensive needs area, specialists are being approached for constructive concept design.
Homeschoolers, we haven’t forgotten about you either. Materials and learning opportunities for homeschoolers are also being planned as part of this facility and will be designed into accessible at-home tools through the homeschooling networks and extended in-class group programming.
Rural and Distant Access
For those who are out of reach of the Aquatic Biosphere for a field trip, there will be programs made available for in-class presentations, either remotely delivered or live by one of our biologists. Current discussions for rural and distance access include a travelling exhibit that can be brought to schools when schools can’t come to the Biosphere.
The Education Centre is not only for students, it is for the community as well. Space will be available to community use, adult and family programming when not in use by schools. The creation of a conservation group, a youth group, supporting innovation and creative problem solving through citizen science projects are all on the table for development.
Classroom kit projects are underway in the design process with the intent of piloting in selected classrooms in the 2018-19 school year. These are multi-week projects that classrooms can set-up and monitor with scheduled visits from biologists to guide them through their discovery.
The first mobile exhibit trailer is in the concept phase, for 2019 creation and use.
Join the Wave
If you are an educator or work with special needs groups and are interested in helping develop these spaces and tools, we’d love to talk to you. For more information you can visit the the Volunteer page or use the contact us page. If you are a business or organisation that is interested in sponsoring one of the projects, please contact us