Learning reached great heights at Desert Sands Community School during the 2018-19 year, as was evidenced at the annual learning exhibition at the school on Thursday, May 30.
In the grade K/1 class, teacher Charlee Marlow let students’ critical thinking, collaboration and creativity take flight through project-based learning about bald eagles.
Marlow said students learned about eagle anatomy, foraged supplies in nature to make eagles nests, and made drawings of eagles that were peer-reviewed and iterated upon.
Students also regularly observed a pair of eagles in Delta, B.C. via the Hancock Wildlife Foundation webcam and website as the birds layed and hatched their eggs.
Piper Minnabarriet was one of several student “eagle experts” on hand during the afternoon of the exhibition to answer questions about eagle terminology and provide other facts.
Her favourite thing she learned about eagles, Minnabarriet said, is that “they can spin around in the air with their talons hooked together … to meet each other.”
Marlow said she is thinking about leading students through a project next year that compares eagles with osprey.
“I know down at the board office they have an osprey nest so we said, ‘Well, why don’t we have a camera focusing on wildlife right here … that would be so cool,” Marlow said.
She said she has suggested the idea at a board meeting and is considering having students write letters of support.
Outside, the Grade 11/12 physics students were learning about flying objects as well: water bottle rockets.
Throughout the afternoon, the students put on demonstrations using rockets they made out of water bottles and other materials, launching them into the sky.
One of the students, Kory Clark, had added a parachute to his rocket, which made for a softer landing.
“I enjoyed designing [the rockets], launching them and practicing launching them earlier,” Clark said.
Students in the Grade 2 class were outside providing demonstrations as well, at the sand pit.
They had studied water sustainability throughout the year and were building sandcastles to demonstrate the impact of water on the land.
After building the sandcastles, the students poured water over top to demonstrate runoff, “because it could happen here,” said student Danyka Pollard.
The project also tied in the village boil water advisory, with a tour of the Bonaparte Indian Band water facility and a presentation by community water expert Eddie Aie, who taught the students how to do water quality testing.