May 19, 2017
FERGUS, Ontario – The staff and students at Victoria Terrace Public School have poured their passion for the environment into a school-wide inquiry focused on renewable energy.
This school year, all students in grades 1 to 6 have been involved in the initiative. This is the fourth year in a row the school has conducted a school-wide inquiry on an environmental theme, starting with waste, then water. The past two years have been dedicated to renewable energy.
This year’s inquiry kicked off with a webinar by Dr. David Wood on wind turbines. All of the grade 1 to 6 students participated, learning about the pros and cons of wind turbines. School staff wanted the students to realize that making decisions about energy isn’t always easy, and worked to build students’ background knowledge on the topic.
Following that, TREC Education came to the school for a wind turbine workshop. TREC Education is a charity that delivers renewable energy education to people across Canada. Educators from the charity led students through a wind turbine building workshop.
Over the next 7 weeks, classes in the school cycled through different workshops and lessons to learn more about fossil fuels and renewable resources.
What came next was an exercise called a “Tug of Thought” where students were asked to think about the question “Can Fergus be a fossil fuel free community?” Staff charted all of the students’ responses, their first opinion, and displayed them in the library. At the end of the project, staff will ask students to chart their second opinion and see how or if their opinions changed after all that they have learned.
Throughout the inquiry, students have been challenged to ask questions about the topics they are studying, to write down the pros and cons of each fuel and energy source and to chart what they see, think and wonder about each.
One goal for next year is to focus more on designing and building, giving students design, research and construction challenges.
The future isn’t exactly clear for next year’s plans, as with inquiry you don’t always know where it will go. Students will continue to be challenged to question, to ask more questions and as a group they will see where the project takes them.
Beyond the school-wide inquiries, Victoria Terrace PS’s dedication to the environment shines through in many other ways. The school is a Platinum EcoSchool – the highest level achievable – and has a thriving EcoTeam. They have an Eco Blog, beautiful outdoor classroom, compost system and more.
The entire school celebrates the UGDSB’s motto of “Live Green. Learn Green. Go Green” every day.