DSCN7954In August, superintendents from around the province heard from Mike Bernier, our new Minister of Education, and several senior staff that the principles which are to guide our work with students in the days ahead will be:

• Personalizing learning – tapping into student interests to help them learn
• Focusing on core competencies balanced with a solid base of skills (reading, writing and math)
• Applying what students have learned to real-life situations
• Ensuring that students gain the skills required to enter post-secondary education and the workforce

During the second semester of 2015, a cohort of grade 11 students at Kwalikum Secondary was enrolled in the first Science Co-op program offered at the school. These students spent their time together in a combination of classroom based learning, field studies and practical hands-on work experience that linked to their academic or career interests. Students earned credits in Biology 11, Biology 12, English 11, Work Experience 12A and 12B.

By using a cohort model which freed students from a traditional timetable, all students were out of the classroom and in work experience placements at the same time. The diversity of work experience opportunities allowed students to choose a placement that was aligned with their interests. Examples of some of the work placements included veterinary clinics, Canadian Coast Guard, VIU Aquaponics program, dentist clinics, Deep Bay Marine Field Station, Big Qualicum Fish Hatchery and North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre.

In addition, the entire cohort spent four intensive days at the world renowned Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre on the west coast of Vancouver Island immersed in marine and forest ecology, and conservation.

Testimonials from students included comments such as, “life changing” and “the best experience I’ve ever had in school.” They learned about the diverse areas of work related to science education and what to expect within these disciplines. They had an opportunity to apply their scientific knowledge in real time, real life vocations.

Some students continue to work with a non-profit organization based out of Qualicum Beach called Sea Legacy as a result of their involvement in the Science Co-op. In addition to the diverse experiences, students have gained confidence and an array of new skills that will benefit them as they move forward in their educational programs and in life.

If you are keeping score at home, I think this program just went a perfect ‘four for four’ on the Ministry of Education scorecard.

Rollie Koop