My first experience with Open Minds was 12 years ago as a Grade Five student with Zoo School. We had begun studying animal habitats and were told that for one week we would be at the zoo studying any animal we wanted. I was keen to study the tigers so the tiger enclosure became my classroom for a week. We were given journals to document our experiences and would reconvene in the Tom Baines classroom to learn about other animals from the zoo staff. At the end of the experience, we went behind the scenes with the elephants and had the opportunity to participate in their bathing session. As a result, we actually got to wash and feed them! This experience is still the most memorable of my school career along with one of my favourites from my childhood.
Taking what we learned from Zoo School our task was to then create our own original animals and design an appropriate enclosure for them. I distinctly remember how excited I was when I did this project and the effort I put into it. The impact this experience had on my learning was something I cannot forget. I remember being excited, engaged, inspired, and I felt like an true expert.
The lasting impact of Open Minds was unlike anything I have ever experienced. My mother volunteered for trip and we still talk about how fun it was for not only the kids but for the parents too. Now as I embark on a career as an elementary teacher, having experienced this program as a student firsthand, I understand the kind of impact it can make for my future students. The immersive quality of this program makes it utterly unique and a program I hope to use with my students one day. The school I am currently doing my field experience in will be partaking in the Science School program at TELUS Spark in May. I am excited to experience the program again however this time through the lens of a pre-service teacher!
Open Minds truly opened up my mind to many opportunities and allows students to experience learning that is palpable and meaningful.
Current University of Calgary Werklund School of Education Student (Graduating June 2016)