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Local Teaching Tools Going Global

Saturday, November 16, 2013
Science classes developed by a group of Regina Catholic School Division teachers have drawn international attention.
Based around the topic of carbon capture, the teaching resources are for Grades 3, 7 and 10 — and they even include experiments with chocolate.
Sitting in the division office on Friday afternoon, the teachers behind the carbon capture resource met with Kirsty Anderson.
Public engagement manager with Global Carbon Capture Institute, Anderson travelled from Scotland in part to check out the Regina program.
“You guys are world leaders in this field here in Saskatchewan, so the fact this is happening right here on your doorstep and the students can learn about it is really very cool,” Anderson said.
Development of the tools started in January, when the division was offered a grant by the now-defunct IPAC carbon capture research centre.
According to the school division’s science and math consultant, Donna Ell, the first step was to figure out how the topic of carbon capture could be applied to the Saskatchewan curriculum.
Connections were found at Grades 3, 7 and 10, so the group of three elementary and three high school teachers worked from there.
As with any subject, the teaching method had to be approached a little differently for each grade.
Grade 3 classes, for example, use interactive illustrations, including bubbles representing carbon dioxide going into trees and bubbles of oxygen coming out.
The resource develops into more independent learning and hands-on experiments (think back to the chocolate — honestly, it’s for science) in Grade 7, while Grade 10 students take on an extra level of technical understanding.
Some of the resources were adapted to the Saskatchewan curriculum from an Australian program Called Carbon Kids, though other lessons evolved independently.
Take the First Nations perspective, for example, which is relevant not just across Canada but also in the United States and other countries with an indigenous population.
Although the resources developed here in Regina are closely tied to the Saskatchewan curriculum, the thought of sharing was always at the forefront of Ell’s mind.
“As teachers, when we create something, we don’t want it to sit on a shelf — we want it to actually be used,” she said. “Knowledge is power, so we always wanted to share this resource and we’re very excited to be able to make those connections.”
Anderson said establishing international linkages for teachers across the globe was an important part of her visit.
“There’s a huge knowledge gap out there about carbon capture and climate change in general, and it’s not common to see a group of people take this under their belt,” she said.
Teacher Mark Wernikowski is one of the teachers who helped develop the resource, and said one of the best things to come out of it is the positive message.
 “Often when you’re talking about climate change, it’s very negative and students kind of leave the class with their heads down,” he explained.
“I feel as teachers, we need teach not just the problem but also the solution.” (LP)



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