Classroom Wetlands: Teaching the Model Using Models

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With heat and rainfall on the rise, the importance of urban wetlands is clearer than ever. To ensure the success of the City of Vancouver’s pioneering Still Creek Watershed Enhancement program, garnering the surrounding community’s engagement and support is a must. Teaching young people about wetlands through the models we’ve developed is how we’re sewing Still Creek stewardship through the neighborhood and beyond.

School:

Langara

Department:

Humanities and Social Sciences

Course:

Environmental Problems and Solutions (ENVS 2100)

Instructors:

  • Drew Egan
  • Mike Smith-Cairns

City of Vancouver:

  • Brad Badelt

Student Team:

  • Shion Omichi
  • Samuel Sidorchuk
  • Ching Kwok Leung

Term:

Fall 2023

Summary

Facing the rising temperatures associated with global warming, and the increasing frequency of significant precipitation events thanks to climate change, its no wonder that the City of Vancouver is looking to sustainable, resilient solutions in places that have been historically overlooked. Wetlands perform a plethora of climate-change combatting functions within the urban environment, and as such have become the focus of significant interest in cities around the world. Still Creek is one of Vancouver’s very few remaining semi-uncovered waterways and wetland environments, but is significantly altered from its natural state after decades of development in the surrounding neighborhoods. As Vancouver’s increasing need for holistic urban wetlands has become clear, so too has the opportunity that Still Creek presents as a pioneering rehabilitation project to set the tone for future wetland rehabilitation and reintegration. With this in mind, the City of Vancouver’s Still Creek Watershed Enhancement program seeks not only successful physical outcomes, but also success in terms of social license and community support. Our involvement in this comes in the form of supplementing an ongoing artist-in-residence educational program at elementary schools within the Still Creek watershed. This program endeavors to educate and engage young people on the privilege and value of urban wetlands, and to increase literacy of the Still Creek Watershed Enhancement on the community scale. Our project is a supplemental package of educational tools focused on facilitating the teaching scientific concepts relating to urban wetlands and their impacts to young people. Our methodology is based in model-based learning, an academically proven concept in action locally in classrooms and facilities such as Science World. Our interactive models, built with durable materials and designed to last, will hopefully aid in the education of young people year after year, and thus help to secure the important future of urban wetlands in our city.

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