NWT School Gardens: Garden Curriculum for Grade 3

Why Garden with Students?

A school garden is a powerful educational tool. A school garden may consist of a few herb pots in a window or larger plots outside. Regardless of size, the real life experiences these living laboratories offer provide stronger lessons than those found in textbooks.

Research shows that gardening in schools can improve students’ attitudes towards themselves, others, and school; enhance their relationships, promote environmental awareness, improve test scores and encourage them to make nutritional food choices.

Finally, growing gardens with students can teach the skills they will need to be able to grow their own food and contribute to a local food system. In Northern Canada, where food availability is based upon large transportation distance, this may be especially beneficial in enhancing food security.

Download the curriculum document by clicking here.

The NWT School Gardens: Garden Curriculum for Grade 3, is based upon a highly successful gardening program at Weledeh School in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

Check out this and other great educational gardening initiatives under Local Food Production by clicking here!

Get to Know Your Watershed! Teacher Resource Guide

This Teacher Resource Guide was developed for northern teachers and organizations to help teach and engage students in learning about watersheds. The guide was developed by Ecology North with financial support from Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories.

Watersheds are important features in our landscape that teach us about how water flows, how rivers are created and how land and water ways are connected. Other topics such as geology, weather, topography, land cover, land uses and water quality can also be incorporated when teaching students about watersheds.

The guide provides background information about watersheds and their features and functions, with an emphasis on watersheds in the Northwest Territories (NWT). The background material also includes a list of key watershed terms (bolded words), and additional books, video and website resources.
Three watershed-related lessons are laid out in this guide. Each lesson is designed to engage students in a hands-on and interactive watershed model building activity. Through the lessons students learn by doing, thinking, researching and experimenting. The three lessons range in grade level and duration, from a 60 minute upper elementary lesson, to a multi-session high school lesson. Several assessment and extension options are provided for each lesson.

Contact us for a free physical copy, or click below to download the guide:

Get to Know Your Watershed!
A Teacher Resource Guide for Northern Watershed Education

Schools for a Living Planet Teacher Resources

Ecology North developed a series of curriculum-linked lesson plans for teachers in the Northwest Territories as part of the WWF Schools for a Living Planet program. These lesson plans are accompanied by NWT official languages word glossaries. Many of the resources were also adapted for teachers in Nunavut, and are available in Inuktitut (ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ).

The resources are for students and teachers from Grades 3 to 8 and cover the following themes:

Grade 3 – Northern Soils and Plants
Grade 4 – Solar Energy and Extreme Weather
Grade 5 – Snow Mechanics and Human Interaction with Snow
Grade 6 – Energy and Alternatives
Grade 7 – Waste Reduction and Hazardous Waste
Grade 8 – Northern Waters

The resources were officially launched on the World Wildlife Fund website during the NWTTA Territorial Teacher’s conference, September 29 – October 1, 2014.

To view and download these resources, please visit our sister site, NWT Science Focus.

Sambaa K’e Source Water Protection Planning

During the year of 2014-2015 Ecology North had the opportunity to work with the Sambaa K’e Dene Band (SKDB) of Trout Lake to develop the first source water protection plan in the NWT

In response to growing concerns about their drinking water (i.e., climate change impacts, industrial development, and historic waste sites), Sambaa K’e opted to complete a community source water protection plan. The plan was completed through a collaborative partnership approach with Ecology North, SKDB and the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENR), who provided both financial and technical support to help make the plan happen.

Source water refers to raw water from aquifers, streams or lakes that is used to supply drinking water systems. The purpose of source water protection planning is to prevent contaminants from entering a drinking water source prior to treatment, and thus it is often considered the first essential step to ensuring safe drinking water. The need for community source water protection planning is well recognized in the NWT Water Stewardship Strategy and Action Plan, and in 2012 GNWT ENR began taking the important initial steps towards addressing this need. The department hosted two community source water protection workshops to help introduce the concept of source water protection and build community capacity with respect to the development of community source water protection plans. The workshops also led to the development of a NWT Source Water Assessment and Protection Guidance Document, which is intended to help interested communities engage in source water protection planning.

The source water protection plan for Sambaa K’e is partly based on the NWT Source Water Assessment and Protection Guidance Document. The project brought Sambaa K’e community members and Elders together with watershed interest groups, government staff, and community staff to identify potential source water threats and to determine appropriate management actions to address those threats. In total, 21 potential contaminant sources were identified and mapped in the source water plan. A series of management actions, including hazardous waste remediation, were also prioritized and recorded in the plan. These management actions provide ongoing direction for future source water implementation initiatives in the community of Sambaa K’e

Click below to read the report:

Community of Sambaa K’e Source Water Protection Plan

Integrating Climate Change into Municipal Planning

Ecology North, the Pembina Institute, and the NWT Association of Communities have created and updated a Climate Change Guide for Community Decision Makers, which is now in it’s third edition. This guide was developed to help communities mainstream climate change into all their decision-making processes. With ten chapters on everything from adaptation planning, hazard mapping, asset management to source water protection there is plenty of useful NWT-specific information available.

If you are interested in how you can bring climate change into your community’s planning processes you can download the guide, below.

Click below to read the Guide for Northern Communities:

Integrating Climate Change Measures into Municipal Planning and Decision-Making

Pepper and the Mighty Mackenzie

As part of Canada Water Week in 2014, Ecology North developed an educational activity in support of the Northwest Territories Water Stewardship Strategy. The book is for children of all ages and follows Pepper the Sand Piper as she explores the mighty Mackenzie River.

Click below to download the activity book:

Pepper and the Mighty Mackenzie

Feasibility of Centralized Composting in Hay River

In March 2013, Environment Canada published a report, Technical Document on Municipal Solid Waste Organics Processing that had a target audience of medium to large Canadian municipalities. In the Canadian North, over half the population lives in small- to medium-sized communities outside of the capital cities. Recently, communities such as Hay River, Northwest Territories have expressed a desire to recycle like their southern counterparts and to compost organic residuals such as food and yard wastes. Composting organic materials using paper products as carbon sources presents an opportunity to locally convert more than 60% of the waste stream into a valuable soil amendment.

This Feasibility of Centralized Composting in Hay River report builds on this previous work by providing a case study for territorial, provincial and municipal governments, and other decision-makers to increase organics diversion in northern communities.

Click below to view the report:

Feasibility of Centralized Composting in Hay River, Northwest Territories, Canada

Appendices to the report can be found here:

Feasibility of Centralized Composting in Hay River, Appendices A, B, C, D, E, and F

Fort Resolution Youth Water Monitoring Project

Ecology North, in collaboration with the community of Fort Resolution, including Deninu Kue First Nation, Fort Resolution Metis Council, Deninu School, GNWT ENR, and the University of Saskatchewan, helped to develop a pilot project aimed at engaging Fort Resolution youth in cumulative impacts assessments related to water. We saw an opportunity to build on ongoing research and monitoring efforts in Fort Resolution by developing a program to engage community youth in aquatic cumulative effects monitoring, while also linking to ongoing high school science curriculum.

The core focus of the project, in addition to ongoing collection of data to assess cumulative water impacts in the NWT, was youth capacity building. One of the key goals of the project was to encourage youth to become knowledgeable and interested in carrying out monitoring work in their communities with researchers, scientists, technical staff and community organizations.

The project was broken into four learning sessions, which were a series of workshop style sessions that combined western science and traditional knowledge, hands-on activities, instruction and break-out group work. Each session focused on a different part of the research and monitoring process and gave students an opportunity to learn and try out new skills. Three detailed curriculum resource templates pertaining to water, ice and fish were also developed as part of the project. The curriculum resources are designed to provide guidance, activities and information for teachers interested in incorporating activities that can reflect learning about cumulative effects.

Over the course of the project students developed their own individual research projects on a topic of interest to them. The projects were student-led and student-driven and followed an inquiry-based learning process that was part of the experiential science curriculum taught by Mr. Ted Moes at Deninu School.

Click below to read the teaching resource that was developed for this pilot project:

Fort Resolution Youth Monitoring Project:
Draft Teaching Resources Prepared for Pilot Use in Fort Resolution

Wood Pellet Ash as an Agricultural Soil Amendment

The use of wood pellet stoves and boilers in the Northwest Territories is increasing quickly as more people convert to biomass heating systems. Approximately 90 tonnes of wood pellet ash were produced from industrial, commercial and residential boilers and stoves in 2013.

Samples of fly ash and bottom ash from wood pellet boilers and stoves were analyzed to determine their suitability as an agricultural soil amendment, including fertilizing potential as well as testing physical characteristics and concentration of elements or compounds that could be toxic or limiting to plant growth. Wood pellet ash is rich in potassium and certain micronutrients. It is also highly alkaline and has high acid neutralizing values. The author found that wood pellet ash added safely to compost at a maximum of 5-15% of total compost weight can enrich it in a variety of nutrients. Ash can be a valuable addition to compost especially during the early decomposition stages. Wood pellet ash must be monitored in compost in order to avoid alkaline shock and reduced productivity.

Click below to view the report:

Wood Pellet Ash as an Agricultural Soil Amendment in the Northwest Territories

Clean Start: Hazardous Waste Stockpiles in the Sahtu

In 2013 and 2014, Ecology North partnered with Sahtu communities to tackle the challenge of hazardous waste that has accumulated in municipal solid waste disposal sites over decades. Much of this waste comes from non-municipal sources such as industry and government.

Together with municipalities and with support from the GNWT departments of ENR and MACA, we were able to develop itemized inventories of hazardous waste in the solid waste facilities in the communities of Norman Wells, Tulita, Colville Lake and Fort Good Hope. A lot of the waste was tidied up, labeled and repacked so that much of it is now ready for transport out of the communities and disposal at appropriate facilities that are able to handle these kinds of waste.

The project also helped to draw attention to the challenge, and we are hopeful that federal, territorial and municipal jurisdictions will be able to work together to dispose of the waste in the future.