Thursday, June 3, 2010

Blueberry or Huckleberry?

“Blueberry or Huckleberry?”
Prince of Wales students are poring over a fine textured bush with thin, oval leaves. Sunlight filters through a stand of Hemlock and the air is deliciously fresh.
“Feel the stems, if they are round, it’s blueberry, squared, then it’s huckleberry”. Students strain to see carnivorous sundews nestled amongst the sphagnum moss. Some are examining Bog Laurel, and Labrador Tea, and that fine high arctic plant, Arctic Starflower. But they are nowhere near the arctic. They are doing a species inventory in biology class, in the middle of the city in a tiny bog rescued by the Camosun Bog Restoration Group.
They learned about the importance of the bog ecosystem to reduce greenhouse gases. On weekends, guided by the Crazy Boggers, they help out with restoration. To demonstrate their learning, they become bog tour guides for a group of primary children: The assignment: translate the bog narrative into a children’s story and create learning games to conduct an interpretive tour with children. The results are more imaginative than anything an adult can come up with: Dramas, children’s stories, bog flashcards, board games and songs describe the species inventory, abiotic conditions and the narrative of Camosun Bog. The benefits go in both directions: Teens have some responsibility to learn (in order to teach!) and children enjoy the care and respect from older youth.

The Camosun Bog Buddy Program has been running now for five years. It is a partnership between The Camosun Bog Restoration Group, Prince of Wales Secondary and David Lloyd George Elementary.