We had the pleasure of reaching out to over 80 children at Dewdney Elementary School in Mission for World Wetlands Day this year. Dewdney Elementary is slowly introducing wetlands into their curriculum and planning a restoration project with BCWF for the wetland on their school property.
We introduced the students to the basics of wetlands and ran them through a couple of fun activities in the crisp outdoors.
Students took turns holding up wetland artifacts and cue cards in front of the class to learn about a few key wetland topics. Students learned about:
- The 3 main ingredients: Water, Soil and Water-loving Plants;
- The 5 types of wetlands: Marsh, Bog, Fen, Swamp and Open Water;
- Some of the main functions that wetlands offer: Filtration, Flood Control and Habitat;
- As well as some of the key animals that use wetlands: Birds, Beavers, Moose (we passed around a real moose jaw for them to feel the teeth), Amphibians, Reptiles, etc.
Food Web Story Activity
One of the main activities we ran through was a food web story showing the connections between all of the species that use wetlands as well as their connection to wetland elements. Students stood in a circle and each wore a pinnie that represents a specific wetland element or wetland animal or plant species. They grabbed onto a rope as their name was called in the story creating an energy-flow web.
The story took a turn for the worse when chemicals were dumped upstream and invasive species were introduced. When one species started getting negatively affected in the wetland, we saw the web start to fall apart demonstrating the dependence that the species have on each other and on the wetland elements in a community.
Invertebrates- Pond Dip
We also did a pond dip in the wetland on the school property to show the students some of the invertebrates that live in and depend on wetlands. One student got to come down to the wetland and dip the net into the water with us. Invertebrates were collected into white viewing basins with pond water and later released back into the water. We were fortunate on this brisk day to see a variety of invertebrates including scuds, caddisfly larvae, a type of sow bug, aquatic beetles and more. The students loved seeing the caddisfly larvae come out of their homes made of leaves and tiny sticks. Many more invertebrates should show up as the weather gets warmer.
Show and Tell
Throughout our visit we also showed the students our mini bog that we have been growing for at least 5 years now in a glass planter. Students got to see the moss and the rich organic layer that the moss has created over the past few years. The mini bog also contains some bog cranberry and has wetland grass growing in it. The students really enjoyed seeing the Northern Pitcher Plant; a type of insectivorous pitcher plant that grows in bogs. There was also a chance for them to look at some life-like models of turtles and frogs that frequently use wetlands and to further check out the moose jaw and a log that has been chewed by a beaver.
Students learned all about wetlands and their importance for many types of animals and plants and how they benefit the environment with flood control and filtration. We are looking forward to visiting Dewdney elementary School again to hold future educational activities and broaden the students knowledge and appreciation for wetlands.
This outreach event was made possible by the following funders:
Since 1985, Wildlife Habitat Canada, a national, non-profit, charitable conservation organization, has invested over $60 million to support hundreds of conservation projects on private and public lands across Canada, through its granting program. Wildlife Habitat Canada works through partnerships with communities, landowners, governments, non-government organizations, and industry to conserve, enhance, and restore wildlife habitat. To learn more about the projects that Wildlife Habitat Canada has funded or to see our annual report, please visit http://www.whc.org. Without habitat…there is no wildlife. It’s that simple!