Grade 7-12 programs and teacher professional development

Field Study Programs for Schools

At BGI we have the unique ability to expose students to the many ecosystems found in our mountain environment; wetlands, forests of various ages and species structure, fire affected forests, multiple streams, and the ability to access study sites at various altitudes. Our proximity to Calgary makes day-trips and multiple trips throughout the year possible, including during the winter; a novel experience for many students and teachers.

We also offer teacher professional development that explores how to design experiential education courses and facilitate outdoor education. Please contact us for more information.

Grade 7-12 Courses

The education program at BGI provides a cutting edge, experiential learning environment for students, leading to a fully immersive scientific encounter. We want to push students to uncover links between various scientific concepts and to bridge the gap between many different disciplines. We directly engage students in an innovative ecological inquiry program that allows participants the freedom to explore interests while also giving them an authentic taste of the scientific process.

Students are introduced to the idea of an ecosystem, and will focus on the question “How do plants survive in the winter?”. Students are lead through strategies plants use to cope with winter, and ultimately will conduct a small research project investigating these strategies. The program also includes a primer on identifying animal tracks and scats, snowshoeing, and quinzhee construction; a mix of science and fun to introduce many concepts to budding young scientists.

Students examine freshwater systems from the perspective of a Bull Trout. Ecosystem characteristics favourable to fish survival are the focus for the duration of the program. Students are introduced to data collection methods in a stream environment, taken on a hike emphasizing the ‘ghosts’ left behind by glacial movement in the immediate area, and introduced to a human perspective on water by participating in a ‘water auction’ - a role-playing activity focused on how we value water resources.

Students compare a pond to a stream in terms of biodiversity by measuring chemical, physical, and biological factors. This program focuses on the chemical and physical differences between two freshwater bodies and how they can affect/be affected by biological diversity.

Students compare an aspen forest to a pine forest; chemical, physical and biological data are collected and compared from each site. Students will determine what they feel are the most important factors in determining where pine forests grow and where aspen forests grow. Access to long term data sets is available to expand student’s thinking and allow them to better understand changes in biomes over both space and time.  The importance of scale and modes of change at various scales are stressed in this program.

Students examine the biological, chemical and physical factors affecting aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. On the first day students will be introduced to the “River Continuum Concept”; a well known model developed in the 1970’s. During the aquatic field study, students measure and assess the river’s physical, chemical, and biological qualities. Student data is then compared to the River Continuum Concept and the veracity of the model is considered.

For the forest field study students will examine physical, chemical and biological attributes of two forests: aspen dominated and pine dominated. Based on the data students have collected, they will construct a model they believe accurately describes processes responsible for patterns in a forest ecosystem. A known model is used as a springboard for the aquatic study, while a model is constructed during the forest study. Interactions of energy flow, matter cycling and human impacts on ecosystem processes are the focus of this trip.

Students use an open inquiry model to investigate processes taking place in aquatic, forest or winter ecosystems. They will be given an opportunity to explore a novel environment and develop and test a scientific question. Students are able to talk to current research scientists, have access to current research posters, and utilize scientific equipment to conduct an investigation from start to finish. Students will construct a question, conduct background research, revise their question, collect data, synthesize data and ultimately finish with a poster and/or paper outlining their research and conclusions.

This program is geared towards IB or AP students who are interested in careers in a scientific field. Students will leave with a stronger appreciation for the ‘nature of science’ and well rounded understanding of processes involved in developing and conducting a scientific investigation.

Students use an open inquiry model to investigate ecological processes taking place during succession.  As a group, students will learn how to develop and refine a scientific question, then design a study to test the question and present their findings. Students will have the opportunity to discuss with current research scientists, look at scientific research posters, utilize scientific equipment and ultimately conduct a scientific investigation from beginning to end. Students are introduced to the ideas of competition, disturbance ecology and current thinking in ecological modelling. This program is geared towards encouraging students to view science as a process, one that anyone can participate in.

At the Biogeosciences Institute we encourage educators to work with us to create a program that will suit their students needs. We believe that by allowing students to lead their own inquiry investigations, they will experience greater ownership over their project and more satisfaction overall. We are very interested in assisting educators to design a program that allows students to experience the scientific process through immersion in an outdoor ecosystem. We have been involved in short term (1 or 2 day trips) field investigations for decades, but have recently been working with teachers to develop programs that last over the entire school year. Students visit the BGI a few times during the year and are able to thoroughly investigate scientific questions that are of interest to them. If designing a program is of interest to you, please contact our school program coordinator Susan Arlidge to discuss your ideas. 


Teacher PD

Teacher Professional Development

Our education team offers a variety of professional development opportunities for teachers. Experience a full field trip program, mix and match different elements, and learn how to design your own experiential education trip. We offer the opportunity for teachers to modify programs to focus on biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, collaborative work, language arts, or interpretive skills.

We have the unique ability to explore outdoor learning in a risk controlled environment, and train teachers on overcoming barriers with taking students outside, particularly during winter months. We are happy to custom build programs, please contact us for more information.

Winter Inquiry

BGI worked collaboratively with The Galileo Educational Network to create this video, which gives an example of a high school inquiry-based ecology field trip.