Ten Canadian schools are closer to their dream of winning a $20,000 outdoor classroom after being chosen as finalists in the 3rd annual MAJESTA Trees of Knowledge competition. Now it’s up to Canadians to determine which school will bring their outdoor classroom to life by voting online at majestatreesofknowledge.ca from March 18 until April 26, 2013.
The Trees of Knowledge competition was launched in 2011 by MAJESTA, Tree Canada and Focus on Forests to help schools take learning outdoors by creating inspiring and interactive spaces for students to learn about nature, the environment and sustainability. A panel of expert judges, including representatives from MAJESTA, Tree Canada and Focus on Forests, narrowed the submissions down to a list of ten finalists. The school who receives the most votes during the voting period will win the $20,000 outdoor classroom.
“With the creativity and passion that each of the finalist schools put behind the design for their outdoor classroom, we expect it to be another close competition this year,” says Jim Schedler, Vice President of Marketing for MAJESTA. “Whether you vote for a school in your community, a school in your province, or any one of the outstanding submissions, we encourage Canadians to show their support, vote daily and help their favourite school come out on top. Canadians who vote can also enter for a chance to win a $10,000 cash prize from MAJESTA.”
Representing communities from coast to coast, the 10 finalist schools include:
Island View School (Grades K-5) Saint John, NB Island View School would like to build a covered outdoor learning space, using the hillside in their schoolyard to create an amphitheatre-like classroom with stepped seating. Learning pods will also be built on the hillside to facilitate smaller group learning, while a new structure will be used to direct rain into the school’s water garden.
École Vision St-Jean (Grades JK-6) Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC École Vision St-Jean opened its doors in 2011. The new school would like to build an outdoor classroom to create a space for hands-on environmental learning. The new space will help introduce students to plant and bird species native to the area, and will include birdhouses, birdfeeders, a story-time corner and a weather station to monitor the environment.
Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School (Grades JK-7) Petawawa, ON Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School wants to provide its students with a hands-on outdoor learning space. In addition to using the space to develop a community garden, the school plans to start a composting program for the school’s organic waste and fill the classroom with trees to create shade for comfortable outdoor education.
St. Gabriel Catholic Elementary School (Grades JK-8) Windsor, ON St. Gabriel Catholic Elementary School’s idea for an outdoor classroom includes an eclectic mix of elements for students of all ages. The school’s outdoor space will include a natural wood stage with log seating, outdoor painting stations, birdhouses, butterfly gardens and plenty of wooden tables and benches to provide learning areas for its students.
Hillcrest Elementary School (Grades JK-8) Owen Sound, ON Hillcrest Elementary School is at the foot of the Niagara Escarpment, providing a natural surrounding for its outdoor classroom. The school wants to create three outdoor classroom areas to provide hands-on horticultural experiences to its primary, junior and senior students. The space will also include a butterfly garden to facilitate the grade one class as they study, care for and release monarch butterflies.
Loreburn Central School (Grades K-12) Loreburn, SK Loreburn Central School’s plans for an outdoor space includes a large octagon-shaped gazebo with enough room and seating for an entire class, much-needed greenery and an outdoor pathway to their school. The gazebo will also be equipped with a chalkboard for lessons and will function as an eating area and space for students to view outdoor activities such as football games or track and field events.
ALBERTA: École St. Thomas (Grades JK-7) Lloydminster, AB École St. Thomas’ vision for an outdoor classroom focuses on natural wood features, including a wooden gazebo for small-group lessons, a gathering circle using tree stumps, large wooden animal sculptures placed throughout the space, and a large totem pole. The addition of raised planters would also allow students to plant corn, sunflowers, and other plants indigenous to the area.
Rutherford School (Grades K-6 & Preschool) Edmonton, AB Rutherford School’s outdoor classroom site is nestled within century old trees. A pathway leading to the site will be lined with student-built birdhouses, and an existing sun-dial will be revamped with flower beds to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. The outdoor classroom will also be equipped with interlocking wooden planks for seating and climbing, and a chalkboard designed to withstand the elements.
Seymour Heights Elementary School (Grades K-7) North Vancouver, BC Already at capacity, Seymour Heights Elementary School wants to develop an outdoor classroom to provide much-needed additional learning space for its students. Not only will the new space be used as an area for students to interact and connect with each other, it will also be used as a venue for members of the community to meet and learn together outdoors.
Eagle River Secondary School (Grades 8-12) Sicamous, BC Eagle River Secondary School hopes to revitalize its outdoor courtyard. Currently consisting of only a few picnic tables, the school would like to add a number of elements to the outdoor space, including a greenhouse and garden for its science classes. The school also hopes to include an aboriginal medicine wheel to emphasize the community’s roots.