Water Festival offers unique hands-on learning 0
Students at the Beaver Station check out the beaver dam out at Binney Nature Preserve. Along with learning how the physical adaptations of the beaver aid in everyday functions and survival, students get a first-hand look at how the beaver has the ability to change the landscape by damming up streams and rivers creating habitat for other animals.
A small slice of natural prairie habitat near the Pembina Valley, Binney Nature Preserve is an ideal location for an outdoor classroom.
And about 250 students from Miami, Manitou, Holland, Treherne, Elm Creek, Rathwell, Bruxelles, Morden and Notre Dame were out there recently for some hands-on learning.
They took part in the third Annual Binney Siding Water Festival in June.
The event is co-hosted by the Pembina Valley and La Salle Redboine Conservation Districts who partnered with the Prairie Spirit School Division.
The water festival gives elementary school students a chance to get out of the classroom and into nature to learn about environmental sustainability.
"Binney Siding Nature Preserve is an ideal place to host the water festival," commented a member of the host committee.
"Nature trails meander through woodland and grassland areas which are connected by a 100 ft. floating dock over a marshland.
"It is a great location that ties in with the curriculum matches for this age group."
Twenty stations that reflect aspects of the Grade 3-6 science curricula, particularly on Grade 4 science, were lead by local experts and volunteers from Manitoba Agriculture, Rural and Food Initiatives (MAFRI), Nellie McClung Collegiate, ARocha, Harvest Moon Society, Manitoba Forestry Association, PVCD and LSRBCD.
Making their way along the trails at Binney in groups of six to eight, students stop at ten different stations to participate in an activity.
Since the goal of the water festival is to show students that water is connected to everything - from the t-shirts we wear to the oxygen we breathe - each station incorporates water in a fun, hands-on way.
Students see how precious drinkable water is, how water moves through the water cycle and the ways we can change and affect the quality and quantity of water.
Stations on soil, forestry, mammals and water safety also get the students looking at water from different perspectives. Of course, critter dipping and identification are always a highlight for the students.
This 30 acre site is located northwest of Manitou and two miles north on Highway 244 then two miles west or two miles west on Highway 3 and two miles north.
The site consists of two parcels of wooded and open grassland areas divided by a stream and marshland. A 100 foot floating boardwalk connects the two pieces of land.
There are about three kilometers of hiking trails (colour coded for trail distances) designed in loops so you can walk part or all of them. The site and trails have limited wheelchair accessibility and have a restroom and a picnic/rest area with benches and tables.
Binney was the name of the first station master who worked at this railroad siding in the 1880s. The station was removed in 1910, with the growth of the Village of Manitou.
This land was purchased in 1992 by the Pembina Valley Conservation District with assistance from Interprovincial Pipelines Inc.(now called Enbridge Pipelines Inc.)
The aim was to preserve a small remnant of the prairies that once covered most of southern Manitoba. Three of the major prairie plant communities are represented in this small piece of land.
Enbridge Pipeline Inc. once again sponsored the event by providing a hot dog lunch to all students, teachers and volunteers.