Nature Labs uses impactful and immersive storytelling to bring to life an innovative digital ecosystem of curated resources designed for inquiry-based, exploratory learning that – across four subjects – uses biodiversity as a real-world example of course lessons. The goal? Strengthen interdisciplinary education and foster a new generation of environmentally literate citizens who understand and appreciate nature. If successful, Nature Labs hopes to foster a generation that takes ownership for their natural inheritance by thinking critically about the complex issues that affect biodiversity and, indeed, all life.
Existing curriculums in every province provide for learning intersections with biodiversity, but current resources are mostly biased, dry or out-dated. Nature Labs uses the grade nine guidelines for Science, English, Social Studies and Art to equip teachers with unit and lesson plans that use biodiversity as the lens, all being underpinned by thoughtful, diverse multi-media content designed for all learning styles. By deconstructing the complex, Nature Labs enables high school students to build on the environmental education foundation provided in their primary years by being virtually transported into one ecosystem, a process enhanced by student-selected learning vehicles or stories.
Each unit plan can be used independently or concurrently with different teachers from other courses, creating seamless and intuitive classroom integration. Lesson plans will be enhanced by daily updates, ensuring that Nature Labs is a living prototype and responsive to current events and teacher needs. And through Nature Labs Premium, schools will have the option of evolving the offering with class-customized lessons, community-specific content linkages, live and interactive virtual presentations, virtual class field trips, on-demand professional development for teachers, and virtual homework help for students.
By the end of the unit, students will have worked towards developing a challenge project using project based learning that enables them to connect the subject matter back to their community and apply the use of the knowledge they’ve gained throughout the program. Projects will work within their course parameters and focus on helping students not only think critically about what safeguarding Canada’s biodiversity really means, but also encourage them to design innovative solutions to the challenges at hand. The ideas put forward by students will not only be assessed by teachers, but can be entered into a national databank to help inform Canada’s long term biodiversity strategy. Students will compete with their peers to propose the best concept, with the national winner receiving a mentorship scholarship to actually develop their idea alongside a team of experts for mandated volunteer hours.
With Nature Labs, teachers will gain plug-and-play resources that develop their capacity, enable no-fuss interdisciplinary education and deliver on the often-vague, ministry-driven guidelines. Students will use their own interests to drive learning outcomes and, by leveraging inquiry-based and experiential education, they will be able to foster a sense of ownership for their natural inheritance and have the competency to solution-make for a better world.