Stewardship Through Connection
Our project is about connection and stewardship. We want to bring life and nature into the classroom, to help students connect with nature and thus encourage awareness and care in the future. Our belief is that, by exposing young people to nature and making it an active part of their daily lives, they will grow up to be better stewards of the planet.
We received a grant from LSF and put the money to very good use. Our first idea was an observational hive mounted permanently in one of our classrooms, with a tube to the outside, like the ones they used to have at Science World. We were looking into a hive by Beecosystems and trying to figure out if we could replicate it here, but we ended up selecting a hive from Mann Lake Hives. Michelle (the second teacher involved) has done a beekeeping course in the past, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity to use this skill. She selected a bee distributor that she trusted and chose a species of bee that would match our environment.
Our second idea was to raise caterpillars into butterflies and later release them with the help of the students. Caterpillars were purchased for this purpose and were placed in Michelle’s classroom.
Finally, our third idea was to have a pollinator’s garden outside the school. For this purpose, Michelle selected seeds for flowers and perennial plants that would be attractive and helpful to bees and other pollinators.
We received a Composting machine as a prize when visiting a Climate Action Forum by LSF, and this will be very useful for our plants and garden.
Reflection & Celebration
We faced quite a few issues with our project. The first issue we faced was time; I only see the involved students once a week, and Michelle teaches two days only. So we had a very limited time to get things going and get kids involved.
The second issue was related to the hive. To have them in our school, the first thing we did was convince the Principal of our school that bees were a good idea. The students created a wonderful Powerpoint presentation for him and convinced him to say yes to the beehive. We proceeded to purchase the hive, which the students in our activism club eagerly opened and explored. Unfortunately, upon consultation, the maintenance department of our school told our principal it would not work due to liability issues, so he told us we actually could not have the beehive here permanently. We decided that the beehive would be located at Michelle’s house instead, with a bee camera, and visit the classroom once a month.
The third issue we faced was with the bees. As it turns out, bees are coming in late this year, so Michelle will only be able to get the bees in late June, which is a shame — but the positive side of this is this delay will allow her to properly develop and care for the hive over Summer so that when the bees visit next year, they are strong and vibrant.
The last issue we are currently facing is with the garden. We are lobbying for a garden spot in the front of the school, but maintenance has an issue with us making a garden because our union in our district is very strong, and the green area in the front of our school is the responsibility of the union. We may need to purchase several planters to take the plants and flowers outside. Michelle reactivated an old greenhouse we had in the school and grew several plants in her classroom with the help of her students. Students are very engaged in caring for them and watching their development, as they are responsible for keeping the plants alive.
Michelle did get caterpillars to her classroom, and they are growing exceptionally well! All of them are healthy. As they are right at the back of the classroom, students often stop and watch the little guys moving about their business and eating away at the substrate. They are looking forward to the day they can release them — this should happen soon! The caterpillars are currently entering the cocoon stage.
Students are also working on an informational poster about bees, which will be printed and distributed around the school.
As a side note, the composting machine is being used by the Home Economics program, so the whole school can see it working! We are very excited about the future of our project. While we were not successful with all of our plans, we got many things started and have many plans for September.