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Jenna Forslund: Drawing students into the sciences through projects

Year: 2020 — Province: Manitoba
Certificate of Excellence Recipient

Elmwood High School
Math, Science and Environmental Education, grades 7–12
Winnipeg, Manitoba

[Jenna] is the teacher we all strive to be: naturally inquisitive, incredibly hard working, and dedicated to her students and the larger communities of which they are a part.

former Elmwood colleague

Jenna Forslund completed her master's of education in sustainable development with a focus on culturally relevant teaching practices in the science curriculum. This translates into her actively integrating Indigenous perspectives and traditional ecological knowledge into multidisciplinary projects and learning experiences.

Teaching approach

Jenna draws students into the sciences through project-based learning, knowing that students find it engaging and meaningful, and enjoy taking part. Once she has engaged them, she helps students gain a deeper appreciation for science—its processes and the way knowledge is gained.

STEM in the classroom

  • Uses hands-on projects in all curriculum areas to solve real-world problems: students built a 3D model of a city, while researching ways to make cities and homes sustainable and eco-friendly, calculated the number and size of booms needed to contain an oil spill while developing a plan to clean it up, examined strategies for countering the build-up of volatile organic compounds in cities, explored connections between climate change, food insecurity and Indigenous land rights in the North.
  • Gets girls excited about science: students have taken part in a two-week summer field experience with the International Institute for Sustainable Development; another studied arctic science on board a Canadian research ship; still others contributed to polar bear research at the Churchill Northern Research Centre and presented their project at an international meeting of arctic scientists in Halifax.
  • Integrates technology into math and sciences classes: students create short Claymation videos to teach about composting (one won a $3,000 prize), use multimedia for projects, including prize-winning graphics to show every day uses of minerals, access citizen science projects on Monarch butterfly migration patterns, learn coding through Ozobots, and use Gizmos and Vernier interfaces in labs.

Outstanding achievements

  • Leads school efforts to increase sustainable practices at the school: introduced school-wide composting program; revitalized the courtyard with native plant species; spearheads school's Sustainability and Envirothon teams (the latter takes part in a provincial environmental competition to collectively study and perform an outdoor field test); organized school division's Arctic Science Day.
  • Excels at writing successful grant proposals to support activities such as the FortWhyte Water Festival:
    50-plus grade 7 and 8 students led water-related workshops for grade 5 and 6 students; Jenna's students gained leadership experience and understanding of the real-world application of environmental science.
  • Takes part in provincial Science Teacher Inquiry Project and co-chaired the province-wide Arctic Climate Change Youth Forum that Elmwood hosted in 2016.
  • Play active leadership role at school, including as a sports coach (basketball, indoor and outdoor soccer, curling) and a key member of the Middle Years Science/Math team, and in the school division as teacher-mentor for on-the-job learning to help educators improve their teaching practice.

Get in touch!

Elmwood High School
5050 Chalmers Ave
Winnipeg MB  R2L 0G4

204-667-8823
elmwood@wsd1.org
https://www.winnipegsd.ca/schools/Elmwood/Pages/default.aspx

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