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The outdoor classroom

The outdoor classroom

[The outdoor classroom introduces the OEE program at Queen's. (Full description provided under Transcript heading.)]

[Teacher candidates sit on stumps and benches in the woods.]

[A closeup of fungi. An instructor talks about outdoor teaching.]

[Students paddling in a canoe.]

[Canoeists pulling a water skier behind the canoe. He falls into the water.]

Photos: Lars Hagberg



The Outdoor Classroom

The Outdoor & Experiential Education (OEE) program is designed to introduce teacher candidates to the ways in which environmental and experiential studies can be offered in both school and community settings. The Faculty of Education has offered outdoor and experiential education courses since the professional school opened in 1968. This makes the OEE program the oldest university-based outdoor program in Canada.

On a warm September day, 30 Queen's students sit in a clearing in the woods. Today, this is their classroom.

These are teacher candidates in the OEE program. They explore their surroundings, taking in inspiration for future lesson plans.

The Gould Lake Outdoor Education Centre, at the Gould Lake Conservation Area north of Kingston, is one of three outdoor education centres run by local school boards. During the school year, classes participate in outdoor programs from pond studies to canoeing, winter cookouts to team building. In the summer, the centre provides curriculum-based credit programs for students delivered through canoe, hiking, and kayak trips.

Here, kindergarten students can learn about pond life, up close. Grade 4 students can hike along the Mica Trail, learn about the Canadian mining industry, and identify rocks and minerals.

The program manager for Gould Lake Outdoor Education Centre, Dan Moser, MSc'10 (KIN), Ed'11, is a graduate of the OEE program. He talks to the teacher candidates about the opportunities and challenges of teaching kids outdoors. Outdoor teaching takes a lot of preparation, crowd control, and weather contingency plans!

Professor Zabe MacEachren is the coordinator of the OEE program. A few years back, she came up with an outdoor activity for the OEE students visiting Gould Lake, An Activity that combines "green" energy, outdoor activity, leadership skills, and teamwork … canoe water skiing.

The canoeists must work together, finding the rhythm to propel their canoe…

…with enough speed to pull the water skier off the dock and across the water…

…for a little while. It's a nice day for a dip.

Learn more about the OEE program: educ.queensu.ca/oee.


[cover graphic of Queen's Alumni Review, issue 4-2017]