Students in the Queen’s Bachelor of Education program gain experience outside of the traditional classroom through an alternative practicum. When researching a placement, the words on the Huntsman website stood out: Educate with experience.I knew that it was a perfect fit! After receiving the news I would be working with the Grade Six Ocean Discovery program, I was both nervous and ecstatic, as my experience is teaching high school and I had little knowledge of ocean creatures, yet I was up for a new learning curve and adventure.
Whether it be during the lab sessions, at the touch tank or exploring the intertidal zone, it was truly impressive the way the program brought out excitement and amazement in every student. The program allows students, some of whom live close to the ocean, but have never visited the shore, to discover the beauty and importance of local ocean inhabitants. The labs were hands-on and linked to the curriculum, which as a future teacher is very important. In the labs students touch and observe live crabs, sea stars and urchins and use them to gain knowledge of classification and scientific inquiry. The plankton lab had every student in awe when peering through the microscope. The drop of ocean water revealed to them a whole new world.
My favourite was the student’s expressions, comments and never ending questions throughout the day. It was apparent that all (including the teachers) were both engaged and interested, which is a change from the distant looks and detachment that sometimes occur from pencil and paper classroom work.
The Huntsman does an excellent job of providing educational opportunities for everyone from children to university students and adults. As an environmentally motivated person, I was excited to see they also have done a great job of creating awareness of ecological issues, such as marine debris, through social media, classroom presentations and making their campus single-use water bottle free.
Not only does the Huntsman have a great education program, but they also have phenomenal research happening on campus which I found out when I visited the Atlantic Reference Center (ARC). The ARC has 150,000 catalogued specimens of 3,500 different species at different life stages. I was introduced to the tiniest, cutest ocean sunfish (Mola) that I have ever seen!
I believe that if we as a society want students to take part in saving our environment we must empower them. This is why my alternative practicum at the Huntsman was such a success, as it brought both an appreciation of nature and education together in an experiential way for students to learn. In case you were wondering, as far as grade six’s go, they were not nearly as scary as I had imagined. Additionally, I have acquired so much knowledge and appreciation about St. Andrews, the Bay of Fundy, the ocean and its inhabitants. I am truly thankful to the staff at the Huntsman for being so inviting, full of passion and for feeding my curiosity, it really made my stay inspiring and enjoyable.