Grade 9 students show off biodiversity projects at Red Deer College

Surrounding a giant map of the world that featured numerous organisms, Grade 9 students shared a project highlighting biodiveristy in the Red Deer College library.

The students from St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School participated in the “exhibition of learning” Tuesday afternoon. About 115 students stood anxiously behind their projects, ready and willing to discuss the chosen organisms and how they are connected to the biosystem.

Josh Keith, a Grade 9 math teacher, counsellor and authentic learning coach, said the students learned skills in the exhibition that are helpful beyond the classroom.

The demonstration of the biodiversity project focused on inter-dependencies between organisms on the Individual and global level.

“Every student completed a puzzle piece on their own as well as in a group of three,” said Keith. “They’re three organisms are interdependent on each other in some way or another.

“The idea is to show how organisms affect the world as a whole.”

The students were lined up on tables, with posterboard outlining their individual group projects. At the centre of the space was a 20 foot by seven foot map that had contained every project and where it fits in around the world.

The chosen species ranged from polar bear, seals and salmon to the Eurasian lynx and stingray to plankton and killer whales. Students had outlined how these species are connected throughout the world and how they impact each other.

Keith touted the events’ benefits for the students.

“Project based learning really focuses knowledge acquisition of the curriculum as well as the skill acquisition in and out of school,” said Keith. “By having the exposition, students can really demonstrate their knowledge in a different avenue than to sit down and write a test or essay.”

Keith pointed to public speaking, critical thinking, collaboration and communication skills as collateral tools learned with the project about biodiversity.

“We hope they can demonstrate their learning at a whole different level,” said Keith. “They’re able to gain some confidence and represent their learning in a way that may reduce anxiety a little bit. It builds up those skills to take them beyond the classroom and into the real world.”

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