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Duncan J. Schoular Public School Receives Funding from the Canadian Playful Schools Network to Foster Real-World Learning Opportunities
Duncan J. Schoular Public School Receives Funding from the Canadian Playful Schools Network to Foster Real-World Learning Opportunities
Posted on 06/01/2023

June 1, 2023 (Smiths Falls, ON) – Students at Duncan J. Schoular Public School are reaping the rewards of a real-world and play-based learning environment after being selected as a grant recipient from the Canadian Playful Schools Network (CPSN).

Selected as one of 41 schools across Canada for the 2022-2023 school year, Duncan J. Schoular Public School received funding and resources from CPSN to enhance real-world learning opportunities for its students. The funding supports innovative educational programs that encourage students to become creators, problem solvers, and lifelong learners. Plus, school staff are supported by researchers at the University of Ottawa's CPSN and national and international experts in education.

The program at Duncan J. Schoular Public School is centred around nutrition and wellness. It teaches students how to grow produce indoors through sustainable growing systems using Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).   

With one overarching project, three classes of students have branched off into smaller projects. In Lorie Knox and Lisa Kirby’s Grade 7/8 class, students are learning about sustainable growing systems.  

Grade 8 student Dylan Porter-Windsor says, "We've been learning about hydroponics, aquaponics, and a combination of the two," noting that this is a unique experience, and growing veggies inside is vastly different from outdoor growing.  

Working with a CPSN educator, students are exploring sustainable growing systems, constructing prototypes, and learning about key elements required for success. Through what they have learned about growing systems and the different ponics, students created their unique systems. 

“I designed [my prototype] with a wooden frame with a platform underneath to hold it in place and where the water and nutrients would be absorbed through the roots. The wooden tubing or pipe would also act as a straw to draw those nutrients into the produce to help it grow. Plus, we have a light at the top to act as the sunlight,” explains Grade 8 student DJ Webb, adding that the entire process from researching to creating a prototype has been exciting.

After the prototypes were designed, approved and modifications made, students began researching material prices, learning that researching and comparing prices before you buy an item is an important part of everyday life. It’s incorporating the whole financial literacy part of the curriculum into a natural real-world opportunity. There isn't just one choice to select from and you don't have to go with the most expensive product," says Knox.  

At the end of April, students began building their grow towers, based on their prototypes and recently completed their build. Students have now planted their lettuce and will be studying their design’s functionality, productivity, and efficiency over the next few weeks. The ultimate goal is for students to use their newfound knowledge in future education and to also grow their own produce.  

At the same time, Stacey Rivoire and Angela Parks-Gibson's Grade 5/6 class are becoming cultural food experts with the desire to share this knowledge with their peers through meal preparation, a cookbook, and student-led cooking videos. 

Throughout their culinary adventure, students have been visiting local restaurants. Students sampled food from a variety of cultures, learned from the experts, and were invited into the kitchen to learn about the food preparation process. In this element of the project, the learning started with understanding the importance of healthy eating and the positive impact it can have on your body.   

"We got into that conversation and how nutritious foods can improve your physical and mental health, help you grow and boost your immune system. For the cooking, we made apple crisp, French toast and chocolate zucchini muffins. We really dug into how it made us feel what we were learning. We also shared the zucchini muffins with other classes and also turned it into another lesson - how does it feel to share with others and how does it feel to eat something that's good for you,” says Rivoire.  

During one of their restaurant visits, students learned how to make perogies from scratch. Kenny Lemieux-Downey, Grade 6, says it was a fun and tasty experience. “In pairs, we each had a part in making our perogies. We took turns rolling the dough, putting the filling inside and sealing it up. It was a cool process of wetting the edges of the dough and then folding it over and crimping the edges to seal it up. It’s been fun going to all these places and learning new skills.”

The knowledge and new-found skillsets have transferred into the school and beyond. Students have seen a real-world example of how the culinary sector works and how making your own food can be more sustainable and delicious. For the cookbooks, students are gaining additional skills as they not only are creating a cookbook, but also filming themselves in a step-by-step tutorial that will be included on the recipe pages as a QR code.   

Some of the students are hoping to teach what they’ve learned to younger students and promote the importance of healthy and nutritious foods.

Kari Sloan and Tracey MacTavish’s Grade 7/8 class has been connecting with the local food bank to create awareness and get recipes connected to items received in the food bank boxes. The students call the project Falcon’s Feed and have coordinated with the local grocery store to put logoed labels on shelves to highlight the items that are always in need at the Food Bank.  

"A student that is well, feels good about their learning and their life, that is healthy with a full belly of nutritious food, and that is rested physically, and emotionally – is primed for learning,” says Principal Nancy Holman. “Without wellness, student engagement in learning, and the subsequent academic achievement fails in turn. CPSN has supported our work by helping educators focus on the impact for students. All of the educators in our school need an opportunity to know and feel that our work and our efforts matter in the lives of our students.” 

For media inquiries, please contact:   

Nancy Holman  Principal  Duncan J. Schoular Public School  [email protected] 

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