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“Rocking on” at the Museum with our new virtual school workshops

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OTTAWA, October 6, 2021 - While the pandemic has brought school trips to a halt, the Canadian Museum of Nature is now reaching schools across the country with bilingual, virtual workshops.

The programs are tailored to the needs of each class, with a museum educator offering teachers an engaging alternative to in-school instruction.

Leading the way is a curriculum-based workshop on rocks and minerals—a topic in high demand. Following the success of the pilot program earlier this year, bookings are now open for workshops starting October 5. The museum has also developed an ocean-themed workshop to début in January.

“Teachers want innovative virtual learning opportunities for their students with a high level of interactivity and engagement,” explains Dana Albright Murchison, Head of Programs at the museum.

“Pre-pandemic, our most-requested school workshop was our hands-on Mineral Discovery Lab. Feedback from teachers indicated that it met a key need in supporting their delivery of this curriculum content. It made perfect sense for us to pivot and create an equally dynamic and interactive virtual workshop that would allow us to support teachers in their own classrooms.”

From the convenience of their classroom, teachers and their students can learn about the rock cycle, types of rocks, mineral formation and mineral uses while connecting with knowledgeable museum interpreters. The workshop is aimed at grades 3 to 7 (Quebec: elementary cycles 2 and 3, and secondary cycle 1).

The 45-minute introduction to geology includes dynamic demonstrations by a science interpreter in the museum’s lab (now refitted as a studio with multi-camera presentations), high-definition video clips, closeups on real specimens, opportunities for questions and answers, and a virtual visit to the museum’s Earth Gallery.

“Many teachers are looking for support with STEM subjects from trusted sources,” says Albright Murchison. “We offer the chance to connect with real museum science through an authentic educational program which students can access directly from the classroom.” The museum’s educators benefit from access to the museum’s national collections, and input from its scientific experts.

During the highly successful pilot of these virtual workshops last spring, the museum engaged close to 1,000 students—in urban centres and in remote areas from the prairies to Quebec.

“This virtual offering has taken our school programs beyond the museum and across the country,” emphasizes Albright Murchison. “It’s truly exciting to be extending our national reach.”

Feedback from teachers has been very positive.

“As an educator, I appreciated the organization of the material,” commented Morgan Rose, a Grade 3 teacher at Buckingham Elementary School in Quebec. “The interpreter was very engaging, and the students were extremely invested in the content. They had tons of questions and worked extremely hard to manage their excitement and energy so they could pay close attention!”

The museum’s education team has developed a new workshop for Grade K – 2 on life in a Pacific tide pool. Coming in January will be “Coastal Adventure” where children discover the characteristics and basic needs of live sea stars and other tide pool creatures.

The virtual school workshops are available in both official languages.

To book a workshop, go to nature.ca/teacher-zone.

For questions about the school programs, email reservations@nature.ca or call 1-800-263-4433.

The Canadian Museum of Nature is grateful to the Turnbull Family Community Building Foundation and the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation for generously supporting school programming at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

About the Canadian Museum of Nature
Saving the world through evidence, knowledge and inspiration! The Canadian Museum of Nature provides evidence-based insights, inspiring experiences and meaningful engagement with nature's past, present and future. It achieves this through scientific research, a collection of 14.6 million specimens and artifacts, education programs, signature and travelling exhibitions, and a dynamic web site, nature.ca.