Lord Roberts Students Explore Stanley Park and Participate in SFU Research

On April 8, 2013, students from Lord Roberts Elementary School trekked through the forest in Stanley Park while using iPads to film their trip for a Simon Fraser University research project.

During the field trip in the park, the students participated in many different activities that included identifying and distinguishing different types of trees, learning about the challenges that affect the life cycle of the great blue heron, creating a signature 'forest cologne' and learning about the various animals that call the park home.

Rita Ringdahl, teacher of the grade four class, said that the SFU research project has been an amazing opportunity for her students.

"We are so lucky that the kids can participate in this project," she said. "They are learning so much, not only about nature and the environment, but about the technology as well."

The grade four class is helping professors Kelleen Toohey and Diane Dagenais of the SFU Faculty of Education in their quest to examine how students gain language and literacy skills through video making projects.

"The project focuses on multi-literacies and working with children to produce videos as a means of developing a range of literacy practices including, but not limited to, print literacy and visual literacy," said Dagenais.

Student Ana Lugonjic said she enjoys being part of the research project.

"I like the part where we get to use iPads to make short videos and to do the filming," she said.  "And we get to learn how to use the apps to make the videos."

Student Mikaelah Unso had a lot of fun visiting Stanley Park for the field trip.  She explained how she enjoyed seeing all of the animals and plants, but there was one part of the trip she enjoyed the most.

"I liked seeing the flowers and looking at them while they were blooming," she said.

Ashra Murphy, another student, added that she liked seeing the stuffed brown bat that was shown during the tour of the forest.

"I liked touching the dead bat," she said.  "I held a bat once before, but that was a long time ago and it was really cool to touch one again."

Harry Sharp said he learned a lot during the forest cologne activity, where he and his classmates collected various leaves and plants to mix and crush together in order to create their own unique scents.

"Making the forest cologne was a good experience to learn about different scents," he said.  "My scent smelled like lavender and mint."

One of the main components of the research project is providing students with the tools and training to create videos that complement their already existing school curriculum.

"In collaboration with teachers, we decided to focus on Stanley Park and issues of sustainability," said Dagenais.  "The idea is that the students will be making videos to raise awareness about issues in the park."

Toohey explained that the Lord Roberts class was chosen to participate in the research project that is being funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Standard research grant because many of the students speak a language other than English at home.

"The kids in this class speak a lot of languages," she said.  "There are over 15 different languages in this class alone."

The class has been participating in the research project since early this year, and will have completed their videos by mid-May.

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