The Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve continues to be involved in a number of education programs with School Divisions and other interested groups within its boundaries.
For the past three years, the RMBR has participated in the Park West School Division’s Grade 6 trip to Riding Mountain National Park, a summary of which can be read below. In Spring 2011, we also visited schools in the Turtle River School Division and delivered programs to the elementary and middle school students that explored planting native species, litter and waterways, maps and compasses, and using a GPS.
If you are interested in learning more about our programs, please contact us at 1.204.636.2085 or [email protected]
Biosphere Reserve Teams Up With Park West School Division (2010)
Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve, in partnership with Parks Canada and Friends of Riding Mountain Park, have teamed up with elementary schools in the Park West School Division to bring kids back to nature in the form of a three-day trip.
On the first morning of the 2nd annual grade six trip, 71 kids from schools in Park West School Division set off in the Lake Audy area to search for hidden clues pertaining to the wildlife around them.
“It’s like a treasure hunt and a race crossed with survivor,” described Britney Hamilton, a grade six student from Russell Major Pratt.
The students used GPS units from Friends and the Biosphere Reserves’ Caching Riding Mountain GPS Program who also run the annual GPS Adventure Quest, do school and community GPS workshops and rent them to park guests.
Following the programmed coordinates, students broke off into groups of three. “It’s better and more fun than sitting inside and looking at pictures of wilderness in books, I like learning this way,” says Nick Harper, a student from Birtle Elementary.
Jen Tyttle teaches a grade five and six split class in Birtle. It’s her second year attending the Park West School Division outing and she says that the students are “very proficient with the interactive technology”. And it’s true. The kids caught on immediately, racing off to the shoreline or deep into the trees and tall grass.
She says the students really enjoy the trip to the Riding Mountain area because of the hands on learning and outdoor atmosphere. “It reaches all students. In class not all the students can seem engaged at all times, but out here they really are.”
On day two, Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve and Friends of Riding Mountain National Park set up an archaeological dig for the kids at a former “kill site” (a valley where bison would’ve been herded to be hunted more easily) near Gorge Creek.
By examining these placed “artifacts” the students learned about the people and animals that lived in the park thousands of years ago, including giant sloths who snacked on the tops of trees and beavers the size of picnic tables.
“Because it’s from the past and there are stories that go along with each object, I think it’s important to learn about archeology,” says grade six student Harry Hodgins from Shoal Lake who helped “discover” some historic blue and green glass.
The kids worked on small plots of land called units, brushing away soil and shale to uncover animal bones, glass, and pottery.
Garret Rubeniuk from Major Pratt wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, as he enthusiastically sifted through soil to find projectile points. “You’re active, doing more, it’s really like a big experiment. You get to walk through outside and touch everything instead of looking at a piece of paper. You can actually do things…you learn how people survived.”