Explore the Cariboo Chilcotin
welcome to our ecosystems education!
If you want to learn more about traveling sustainably in the cariboo-chilcotin, check out our CONSERVATION FIELD GUIDE here
Before You Go.....
We've compiled some great info on Species At Risk in the Cariboo Chilcotin as well. Take a look and familiarize yourself with some of the rarest and most threatened species in the Region. If you happen to see any, take a picture and consider yourself lucky!
OUTDOOR EDUCATION MODULES
There are 6 modules covered on-site, at the Gavin Lake Forest Education Society, that teach a variety of ecosystems topics:
Fall Program Modules (Sept/Oct)
Species at Risk (one hour module)
This module starts with a discussion of what defines a species, then goes on to talk about increasing rates of extinction, some of the reasons for it and what happens if a species disappears from the food web. Students are introduced to the concept of red, blue and yellow listed species and each work in more detail on a card with information on some Cariboo/Chilcotin red and blue listed animal species, after which they present some information on their species to the rest of the group.
The module then focuses in on the fisher, a blue listed species and students walk on a trail where fisher habitat and behaviour traits are discussed as well as some reasons that the fisher is at risk. The module ends with a game where students compete as fishers for food, water and shelter. The game demonstrates the effect of loss of habitat on resources and fisher survival.
Wetlands-Plants (one hour module)
The Wetlands module starts with a short multiple choice quiz on wetlands and their role in the ecosystem, beginning the conversation about what a wetland is and why they are so important. An interactive 3-D model is then used to demonstrate how pollutants can travel into water bodies from the land, and how the wetland in the model (a sponge) can slow and reduce this pollution. This leads to explaining how the plants and microbes in the wetlands play an integral role in maintaining water quality.Six live wetland plants are introduced and a couple of their roles in the wetland highlighted (habitat, water quality etc). The plants are introduced in the order they are likely to be encountered (forest plants, riparian/emergent plants, submergent/floating plants). Students also look at some of the ‘mud’ in the wetland under a microscope, seeing the substrate (algae, breaking down plant material, dirt/sand and often live microorganisms. The group then
heads into the wetland along the board walk trail, with a plant ID card so they can find and identify the plants discussed in the classroom. Along the way, classroom concepts are repeated and reinforced.
On the return trip along the boardwalk, students are given space so that they can experience the wetland alone or in pairs as they meander slowly back, giving them time to stop and look at the things that interest them specifically.
Wetlands- Beavers (one hour module)
This module starts with a quiz about beavers, with questions such as how long they can hold their breath, how long the biggest beaver dam is etc.
Some discussion of beaver life history with models of how lodges and dams are constructed, specimens of plants they use/eat. Keystone species- creating wetlands, changes geography of an area. Use of working model to show benefits of wetlands to maintaining water quality.
Walk along boardwalk through wetland, with kids identifying beaver canals, lodges and features of wetland, including some of the plants associated with improving water quality.
Aquatic Insects (one hour module)
‘Aquatic Insects’ studies the bugs that support so many food chains. Students collect aquatic insects from the lake and learn how to use a key to identify them. Water quality is discussed and how it relates to insect survival which in turn affects species further up the food chain. There is then a more detailed exploration of leeches, their life cycle and their role in the ecosystem. Students also have a live trout to look at in the module so the trout’s survival can be linked to the health of the aquatic insect population.
The Perfect Stream (one hour module)
The module discusses what Rainbow trout need to survive and flourish. Students learn the basic anatomy of a fish, observing a live trout and also using a model. The significance of the Rainbow trout as a member of the salmonids is discussed, particularly important in the fall when so many other types of salmon (Sockeye, Pink and Chinook salmon in nearby Quesnel, Horsefly and Williams Lake rivers) are spawning by the thousands. A microscope lets students see a fish scale in more detail and they learn about the rings on the scale. The trout’s reproductive cycle and food supply is discussed, with examples of aquatic insects for students to look at and they learn about water quality and how it affects food chains. The importance of the riparian edge is covered. With the concepts they have learned, students then go outside to construct a ‘perfect stream’ for trout, using blue boards, logs, rocks, trees and gravel to create shade, pools, spawning areas etc. The module wraps up with students going down to the lake to find aquatic insects and identify them.
Winter Modules (February)
Snow Science (two hour module)
Snow science starts with kids brainstorming words to describe snow, followed by an exploration of some of the many Inuit words for different types of snow. The ingredients and conditions necessary to form snow crystals are discussed, and different types of snow crystals are looked at, using William Bentley’s original photographs. The group heads outside with lenses and black cloths to look at available snow crystals, snow fleas and there is also a preserved snow crystal to look at under the microscope. The next part of the module focuses on snow packs, starting with a model to talk about how the snowpack impacts the whole watershed, and effects of a low snow pack. Graphics are used to show how snow ages. Students are divided into groups and taken to areas where a cross section has been cut through the snow pack. There, they measure the depth of snow, look for ‘ice’ layers and look at the difference in texture of the layers of snow, creating a graph representing the layers. The final part of the module builds on the understanding of ‘layers’ and textures of snow to discuss avalanches and how they occur. Students are read an excerpt from a first- hand account of an avalanche survivor and then are asked to come up with supplies they would need if planning a back country trip in the winter in avalanche territory. They are shown an ‘avalanche’ kit with beacons and shown how to use them. They are then split into groups each with their own beacon and can practice using them multiple times to find a buried beacon in a backpack.