Science Shorts

A (class) walk in the woods

There is always something to be taught and learned by taking your class for a walk, whether it be indoors or outdoors. Your science teaching could be supported by taking your class for a walk as students can be more alert and less stressed, while the teacher has eliminated the walls of the classroom and opened the lesson up to new ideas and connections to the real-world and everyday life.

For example, going for a class walk outdoors could address overall expectations in the Grade 7 Science and Technology curriculum, including:

  • Interactions in the Environment (Understanding Life Systems strand)
    • Overall Expectation 3: “demonstrate an understanding of interactions between and among biotic and abiotic elements in the environment.”
    • e.g. What evidence can you see of foot and bicycle traffic influencing the capacity for plant life near the edge of the sidewalk?
  • Form and Function (Understanding Structures and Mechanisms strand)
    • Overall Expectation 3: “demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between structural forms and the forces that act on and within them.”(Ontario Ministry of Education, 2007).
    • e.g. Can you find 3 examples each of solid, frame, and shell structures during our walk? How do you think symmetry played a role in the design and stability of these structures?

To ensure that students are engaged and interested in the science aspects of the walk, it would be important to first establish a basic understanding of the key vocabulary and concepts required to answer inquiry questions such as the examples given above. In addition, you might consider having students work in pairs for half the walk, then share their answers with another pair during a small-group discussion halfway through the walk (“Think-Pair-Share”). This would enable students to build off of each others observations and look for clues that they may have missed to develop more complete answers. Another approach would be to allow the students to collaboratively develop the questions they want to investigate before heading out for the walk, which ensures that the walk will serve as a student-driven inquiry activity.

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2007). The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8- Science and Technology.

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