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Delta Alternative students design highway wildlife crossings

Delta Alternative students design highway wildlife crossings

Monday, March 09, 2015
Categories: Great Things, Happenings @ TDSB, School Web Stories

Delta Alternative is a school that emphasizes both high academic learning and experiential learning, with a triumvirate of students, staff and parents working together to help prepare students for secondary school and life beyond. All of those concepts were front and centre recently as students, guided by teacher Wade Vroom and parent Nina-Marie Lister, who is also an Associate Professor at the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Ryerson University, participated in a project that combined engineering with environmentalism and wildlife habitat protection. 

For the grade 7 Science Ecosystem unit in October, Lister visited to talk about highway wildlife crossings and how important they are to our ecosystem and the wild animals that live in them.  Wildlife populations, our environment, our economy and public safety are all impacted by animals that are struck by vehicles on highways.   An initiative called Animal Road Crossing (ARC) works to implement creative solutions for wildlife crossing infrastructure for the benefit of humans and animals.   

Three months later in January the class took the ARC project to the next level. For its grade 7 Science Structures unit, the class designed and built scale models of wildlife crossings, using wooden dowels and popsicle sticks.  Students had to combine what they learned about structural stability to design a structure that would be appealing for wildlife to use.  Lister made a return visit to discuss structural design aspects of wildlife crossings, and what makes a good wildlife crossing for both animals and humans.  

On February 23, Lister returned again to Delta to see the student designs and their presentations, and to judge the final products.  The bridges were evaluated in two categories: structural stability and habitat integration/ design.

Noah, Sara, Abby and Daniel’s group won the structural category with their jointed bridge design that allowed for flexibility with enough strength to support the load of a full biotic material on top of the bridge.  Winning the habitat integration award was the group of Laura, Nadine, Ridley and Kobi, who designed a wildlife crossing aimed at the long/big horned sheep.  Their crossing replicated the natural rocky and mountainous habitat of the sheep, thereby encouraging use.

“The entire grade 7 class did a great job and their engagement and excitement during the project was amazing,” said teacher Wade Vroom. “They should be really proud of their designs and built models.”

Delta Alternative offers grade 7 and 8 students a supportive, innovative, and challenging educational environment in which to prepare for high school.  Priding itself on offering a community-based experiential learning program, Delta has a small student population of 65 students enabling close connections among staff, students and parents.

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