Megan Jamison and her Grade 6 class stand with the art project they made as part of the Mountain Culture Research Project. The class was one of many to take part in the project

Project-based learning takes on new meaning for students at NES

Megan Jamison's Grade 6 class at Nakusp Elementary School recently took part in the Mountain Culture Research Project

Megan Jamison’s Grade 6 class from Nakusp Elementary School (NES) recently had the opportunity to take part in the Exploring Mountain Culture Forum, put on by the Teaching and Learning Institute and Rural Development Institute at Selkirk College.

The class was one of several classes to take part in the forum, the goal of which was to determine what the term ‘mountain culture’ means to people of the Columbia River Basin.

Jamison heard about the project through Lucerne Elementary Secondary School (LESS) in New Denver. A teacher at LESS, Richelle Johnstone, thought it would be something Jamison and her class would be interested in.

The timing was quite fortuitous.

At the time, Jamison was actually looking for a bigger project for her students to do. She liked the idea of her students taking part, not only because she enjoys doing project-based learning with her students, but because the project was about local culture, and exposed the students to doing research and meeting members of the community.

“I thought it would be a good opportunity to meet members of the community that they wouldn’t normally have met,” shesaid. “I liked that it was a project that the whole class could to do together.”

A wide variety of people were surveyed, from about age 17-75.

Students started off by taking copies of the surveys home and getting their parents to fill them out. Almost every student surveyed at least one of their parents. They were also encouraged to interview other people, whether it was a neighbour, afamily friend, or someone they had never met before.

“I think some of them were a bit nervous about the surveys, but it was really neat to see once they had done one, they really enjoyed it,” said Jamison. “They get to talk about topics they’re interested in, and maybe want to get off their chest.”

Once the surveys were complete, they were sent off to researchers who would compile the data and look for any trends that might pop up.

Along with the surveys, each class did an art project.

Jamison’s class created a multi-media piece of art. Students made a tree out of birch bark which depicted the four seasons.They used Plasticine to make a person hiking in the fall, and a snowboarder in the winter, along with foam for the leaves.

All the classes taking part in the project came to Nelson on March 8 for the forum itself.

There, they had a chance to see all the artwork done by the different classes, along with being presented with the results ofthe surveys.

One thing that surprised the NES students was how much work they had actually done.

“Seventeen per cent of the interviews were done by our class,” said Oriah Leeson. “We’re a small amount of people, and I think it’s crazy that we could do that many interviews, and I’m proud of us.”

Leeson said while it was sometimes hard to remember to do the surveys, she enjoyed the ones she did.

“It was cool to learn about what people think about here, and what people think how we’re at risk, and how we can help it.”


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