Rockwood Conservation Area Youth Education Program

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Rockwood Conservation Area Youth Education Program

Introduction
Take a Hike – Outdoor education is a multidisciplinary team consisting of 6 students from the University of Waterloo. Our goal is to develop and implement outdoor education programs promoting a comprehensive, flexible, and environmentally focused outdoor education program for the Ontario School Board.

Purpose of Research
The current education system focuses on learning within the confines of a classroom through the use of textbooks and worksheets designed to create a structured learning experience for students. Information obtained from textbooks allows students to comprehend and later regurgitate the material presented; nonetheless, interaction with the natural environment would strengthen knowledge through practical learning and hands-on experience. For that reason, the Rockwood Conservation Area would provide exceptional opportunities for meaningful learning. The purpose of this study is to develop an outdoor education program that employs the environment of the Rockwood Conservation Area. This program would be beneficial to the education of middle-school students as it would enhance their knowledge pertaining to nature, science and geography through active learning, which coincides perfectly with the Ontario School Board Curriculum. The program will be designed to hold neutral ideologies, and therefore, would be applicable to any curriculum (Public, Catholic and additional school boards). Related research on the subject has been compiled and reviewed, and is described in greater detail under the heading “Literature Review.” Site Information

The Rockwood Conservation Area is one of many parks within the Grand River Conservation Authority’s watershed. This 79-hectare property was acquired in 1958, and opened its gates to visitors in 1961 (Chapman 1984). A portion of this property was later sold to the University of Waterloo in 1972 (McKenzie 2011). The Rockwood Conservation Area is located east of Guelph on the outskirts of the village named Rockwood, residing by the Eramosa River (Chapman 1984). Its location is accessible to countless schools in Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Hamilton, and the Greater Toronto Area. The conservation area possesses unique geological features, such as potholes created by the runoff of the Wisconsin glacier several thousand years ago, which includes the creation of the world’s largest pothole, the Devil’s Well (Morgan 2002). Morgan (2002) mentions that other features such as caves, wetlands, gorges, limestone cliffs, forests, trails, lakes and rivers can be found within the Rockwood area. Furthermore, camping, fishing, hiking, canoeing, and mini-golf are a few of the many recreational activities currently offered at the conservation area (Rockwood Conservation Area 2011).

Literature Review
Four main concepts were uncovered from the literature that was analyzed in relation to the implementation of an outdoor educational program. A deeper understanding of these four key concepts will help develop a more appropriate, as well as an all-encompassing program that would achieve its goal in all fullness. These concepts include curriculum, teaching techniques, benefits of outdoor learning, and conservation. The following paragraphs will specify relevant information pertaining to the proposed outdoor education program. Curriculum

All school boards within the province of Ontario share the same curriculum. Under the Ontario School Board Curriculum, grade seven and eight students cover a wide range of topics that would be applicable to the development of learning activities for the proposed outdoor education program. The requirements of geography entails that grade seven and eight students learn about the environment, environmental issues, physical and human geography, and fundamentals pertaining to mapping. Regarding the requirements of science, grade seven and eight students learn...
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