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School Programs

Photo by Chris Miner

As a satellite facility of the Queen’s University Biological Station, the Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre offers curriculum-based programs year round that encourage students to explore and measure local biodiversity through field-based scientific investigation.

While historically our school programs are particularly aligned to meet the needs of Grade 9 Science (Sustainable Ecosystems) and Grades 11 & 12 Biology (Biodiversity), we are expanding our programs to subjuects such as geography and environmental science, and to other grades, from kindergarten to college. This is a great fit for private schools, ESL classes, Eco-Teams, and home-schooled students!  Our programs complement in-class lessons teaching ecological principles, and offer more in-depth study and hands-on experience in a variety of areas.

Virtual Programs (booking now)

We are happy to offer several virtual programs. These programs are an adaptation of in-person programs offered at Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre. Each activity will include teacher information, a student worksheet, and a hands-on or problem solving activity. All programs are delivered over Zoom or Microsoft Teams. They run for 60 minutes and are $75 per program (HST rates may apply depending on grade).

There are three steps to booking a virtual program for your class,

  1. Select a date and time here.
  2. Complete our virtual program booking form.
  3. You will recieve an email from our Outreach team, confirming your virtual program.

Please contact Emily Verhoek, Outreach & Teaching Coordinator, if you have any issues or have any questions about the programs or the booking process.

All About Birds

Duration: 60-75 minutes

Program Details: Learn about the variety of features that local birds have, and use this knowledge to identify them wherever you go. Students can test their knowledge through our interactive activities! This lesson plan can be adapted to all ages.

Learning goals: 

By the end of this presentation, students should be able to: 

Aquatic Ecosystems and You (available after April 25th)

Duration: 60-75 minutes

Program Details: Learn about the microorganisms that live in aquatic environments and how important they are to the entire ecosystem. Learn about how people can impact water quality and things you can do to make change. Finally, watch one of our staff demonstrate how microorganisms are sampled from the lake and take a look under our digital microscope.

Learning goals: 

By the end of this presentation, students should be able to:

Ask a Scientist (coming soon)

Duration: 30 minutes

Program Details: Connect with a scientist of your choosing. The scientist will give a brief overview of their job and how they got to where they are today. Students will then be given ample opportunity to ask the scientist questions about their work, their field of study, or what schooling they completed. A great opportunity for learners to ask questions but also gives an opportunity for upper year students to learn about potential career opportunities.

Classroom Connections:

In Person Programs (currently on hold until further notice)

Click Here for more information and how to book.

Fisheries & Aquatic Ecosystems

Ornithology: Diversity & Adaptations of Birds

Classification & Dichotomous Keys

Limnology & Benthos

Macro-Invertebrates

Invasive Species

Dendrology & Forest Succession

Orienteering & GPS

Cartography: Mapping your environment

Water Chemistry

Physics In Nature

Winter Ecology

Fisheries & Aquatic Ecosystems

Studying the diversity of fish species can help scientists assess the health of an aquatic ecosystem.  In this workshop, students will have the opportunity to catch fish using seine nets, and learn about common fish species in Elbow Lake.  We will discuss how humans may impact fish populations, such as climate change and overfishing.

Ornithology: Diversity & Adaptations of Birds

The wide diversity of bird species in Ontario provide an excellent wat to observe physical adaptations. Students will learn about how the different structures of a bird (feet, wings, beak, etc.) are adapted to help them survive. We will also discuss common birds seen in the Kingston area, and students will have a taste of how birders observe and differentiate similar species. A selection of bird specimens will be avilable for students to handle, providing a close-up view of these amazing adaptations!

Classification & Dichotomous Keys

Identification and differentiation of species is an intergral part of the study of life. Students will earn how dichotmous keys are formed, based on morphological differences and similarities between species. This workshop can be tailored so that students design their own dichotomous keys, and/or get experience using an existing key for trees or birds.

Limnology & Benthos

A part of limnology is the study of the extremely small, free-floating organisms called plankton. Students will learn about the importance of plankton in the aquatic food web and how these organisms can indicate the health of the ecosystem. Furthermore, we will discuss how humans affect plankton populations and the overall health of the aquatic ecosystem. Each group will collect their own sample from Elbow Lake and observe what they cantch under the microscope.

Macro-Invertebrates

Macro-invertebrates are organisms without backbones and can be seen with the naked eye, including flatworms, crayfish, snails, and many insects. Students will have an opportunity to catch terrestrial and aquatic macroinvertebrates, identify them, and learn about the importance of these organisms in a health ecosystem.

Invasive Species

An invasive species is a group of organisms which are introduced to an area and have no natural predators, often resulting in uncontrollable numbers. Students will learn about some well-known invasive species in Ontario, how organizations try to control them, and what we can do to prevent them in the future. Students will also experience controlling an invasive species at Elbow Lake!

Dendrology & Forest Succession

Biologists, geographers, and historians can use the study of trees to learn about the natural world. Groups will have the opportunity to learn about and use field techniques (such as transects, quadrats, and tree cores) to study biodiversity of forest ecosystems. Students will also learn how to identify common tree species in Ontario using dichotomous keys.

Orienteering & GPS

Elbow Lake's property containts a variety of habitats and species that are ideal for data collection. Groups will learn how to use a GPS and compass to orient themselves through the Elbow Lake property and collect data to analyze in the classroom.

Cartography: Mapping your environment

Though digital maps are everywhere, the ability to read and create a paper map is still important and provides fundimental skills. This workshop teaches students the characteristics of a map, how to calculate scale, and the different types of maps. Students will choose features on the Elbow Lake property that are relevant to their map's theme and translate it to a flat medium.

Water Chemistry

Take water samples and analyze the chemical makeup of the lake and wetlands near ELEEC. Complete the chemical equations for each of the steps of our analysis. Use this data to make inferences of ecosystem productivity and the types of wildlife that lives within. 

Physics In Nature

Programs tailored for Grade 9-12 Physics units. Investigate the true scale of our solar system, understand the optics for different animal species, use the lake to understand reflection and refraction, measure the kenetic and potential energy of falling seeds, and calculate the velocity when launching different objects.

Winter Ecology Program

Discover what is living under the snow and ice. Learn about a season that many know little about! We have so many activities to partake in during these winter months!

Funding for our Winter Ecology Program was generously provided by the Community Foundation for Kingston & Area.