Our science program deeply integrates outdoor and environmental learning.

Our current global experiences clearly demonstrate the need for education that improves the critical thinking skills, resilience and hands-on skills of our youngest citizens. Students at WHA will receive a strong foundation in the fundamental sciences – biology, chemistry, and physics – through a hands-on program focusing on ecological sciences and environmental stewardship. Through this program, students will better understand global food supply, environmental issues, and the real-life application of science and technology. This program is integrated across all grades. 

To support this, WHA is in the process of becoming a part of Canada’s EcoSchool Program.

EcoSchools Canada offers a certification program for K-12 schools that nurtures environmental learning and climate action. 

WHA really is special with incredible students who have risen to the new challenges and opportunities presented to them in this new context.

– Dr. Katie Kish, WHA Science Teacher

EcoSchool Curriculum 

We believe that our littlest scientists have the power to change the future. Our environmental science curriculum ensures that kids are spending at least one science class per week with their hands and feet in the dirt. Their second science class of the week is devoted to theory and developing a strong grounding in the fundamental sciences – biology, chemistry, and physics.

Our science program focuses heavily on agriculture, nature, climate science, food, and energy. Students will grow their own food, cook one meal per week for their classmates, develop science communication skills, and contribute positively to their community. This program is rigorous and enhances a child’s resilience by not only giving them hands-on experience with science, but also improving self-regulation and self-esteem.

 

Our science program also includes a technology component. Beginning in grade 4 students will learn introductory programming. Students in grade 7 and 8 will have the option of either programming or introductory hardware engineering using arduino.

What does our program look like at different levels?

Kindergarten

Our littlest learners will learn about natural growing cycles, seasons, animal families, and nature-play. The goal at this age is to spark interest and curiosity for the natural world through outdoor play and exploration. Kindergartners will be expected to help out in the gardens by watering crops, building bird feeders, and helping choose the best time for planting.

Students will also learn basic familiarity with using computers.

Grades 1-6

Our junior classes will begin building fundamental knowledge of the sciences through lessons exploring: farm-to-plate food studies, natural environmental cycles and ecosystem services, animal behaviour, and introductory ecosystem sciences. Students will also run our Farm-Fresh-Food program where they will cook one seasonal meal per week for the school.

Grades 1 – 3 will continue learning computer basics such as mouse control and typing. Beginning in grade 4, all students will begin programming classes.

Grades 7 – 8

Our senior class program focuses on both science learning and leadership. Students will run teams that development outdoor growing spaces, implement schedules for garden care, and plan additional EcoSchool events.  In addition to their required science lessons needed to excel throughout high school and beyond, students will also receive training in core environmental sciences including energy, soil science, plant biology, and ecosystem sciences. These classes will be accompanied by lessons in global issues.

Students can choose to continue their programming lessons or switch to a focus on hardware engineering using arduino.

The foundation for this curriculum is that every student should begin their day experiencing and learning about the world around them. The overarching approaches to this curriculum are to:

  1. Spark engagement: Model enthusiasm for nature play and act as a creative spark for children to encourage new ideas and hands-on learning. Lessons should expand creative, imagination, and exploratory learning.
  2. Observation: Educators provide children with an environment and tools for exploration and then step back to give children space to learn. Educators then observe and enhance future outdoor learning based on interests.
  3. Learning for Everyone: Educators will also get dirty, explore, build, create, and learn.
  4. Creating Connections: Children will redevelop a connection with natural spaces, Earth cycles, and animals. Children will also engage with the community at large.

EcoSchools Emphasize Learning Beyond the Classroom

Leadership, 
Responsibility, and Citizenship

The small size of our school offers students many opportunities to develop leadership and citizenship skills – through formal opportunities like student council and in classroom work and discussions. Students are encouraged to suggest projects and activities for the school. And the active mixing of different age groups allows our older students to develop as mentors. Activities such as hosting annual Remembrance Day ceremonies at Marymount Cemetery, volunteering at Hopewell House, and conducting living history interviews with seniors strengthen our students’ sense of community and social responsibility.

The Environment and the Outdoors
We want our students to understand and value our natural environment, to recognize the role and importance of agriculture, and to learn to enjoy time in nature. We spend nearly double the mandated time in outdoor recess, have outdoor physical education in all seasons, and frequently partake in activities such as gardening, outdoor science classes, hikes, cross-country running, and Earth Day clean-ups. Field trips to Mansfield Outdoor Centre, Guelph Outdoor School, and the Guelph Lake Nature Centre reinforce these values.