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Bearded Dragons and Bananas

Susan Fraser

Beginning at a very early age,  children demonstrate an innate curiosity about and love for nature. Young  children are fascinated by living things, great and small, and enjoy being out-of-doors in natural settings. The “ideal”  environment for teaching about living things and the environment is one in which student interest is piqued and remains that way, rich resources are at hand, and both the required time and teacher expertise are available.

A unique opportunity to create just such an “ideal” environment occurred at  New Liskeard Public School in 2005 with the opening of a new dedicated Primary/Junior natural  science room. The Ontario North East District School Board has invested heavily over the last three years in  hands-on learning for its science programs. When reviewing the needs of our school, the board felt that this kind of science lab would  enhance our ability  (we are the board’s largest  elementary school) to offer a top-notch program.

Auspiciously, the architect for the project, Barry Martin, was keenly interested in science education and wanted to create  something special. During the design phase in 2004, I was  asked for input concerning the specific layout of the room and the stocking of the new science facility.

The science classroom measures a little over 10m x 10m with an attached solarium measuring 4m x 10m. The classroom has a lab countertop along one  wall with four sinks and glass-door cabinets  above.  There   are  numerous  display cases, two computers, and many aquariums and terrariums.  The  solarium  has  high-intensity grow lights, a  potting  bench, numerous  plant stands, and a large basin sink.

A dedicated space

All grade 1 to 6 classes come to me, as the Primary/Junior  science  teacher,  for  science.  This teaching and room assignment enables our school to concentrate all of our science resources into one  place. For our  students  it  means that  sci- ence is permanently on display – not something that is “pulled out of a box”. A dedicated science room has the advantage of allowing students (and teachers!) to set up experiments and leave them running  if  we need extra time. All materials are close at hand; extra sinks make clean-up easier. Living resources enhance many of the life science strands. Students can watch our plants and animals grow day by day, and year by year. In the case of  spring butterflies and our  fire-bellied toads, students have witnessed the completion of entire life cycles – from eggs to adults.

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