Science Alternative

"The important thing is to never stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing." ~Albert Einstein

Learning through Inquiry


Inquiry engages learners in a dynamic process of being open to wonder as they come to know and understand the world around them. As a way of learning, inquiry is woven throughout  all aspects of life and is essential to the way in which knowledge is constructed.

In the Science Alternative Program, students work collaboratively to explore new concepts and deepen their learning through a project-based approach. They pose questions, solve problems, and make claims based on relevant evidence. Learning outcomes across the curriculum are carefully woven together to shape authentic and diverse learning tasks with real world connections.

Because student interest is foundational to success in learning, teachers support students in designing their own inquiry projects linked to curricula. For example: All students are expected to learn about life-cycles in Grade 3. Rather than all learning about the same animal(s), students in this program investigate an animal that inspires their interest. In order to deepen learning as well as explore scientific practices, part of the inquiry would involve bringing in animals to study, posing questions, finding answers and observing and classifying different animals (insects, mammals, fish). It could involve working alongside scientists who study animals or going on location to examine the habitats of different animals. Out of the wealth of information gathered, the students, with the support of their teacher and peers, engage in critical thinking, making reasoned judgments and drawing conclusions. Ultimately, students gain a much deeper understanding of how knowledge is created in the science community.

Literacy through Scientific Inquiry

Inquiry based learning naturally enhances the development of literacy skills and places emphasis on  the communication of ideas
 throughout the learning process. Using technology as a tool for learning is critical to the development of 21st Century Literacies and is vital to a project-based approach to learning. Students are supported and encouraged to become confident, capable and responsible users of information. This includes:

  • Interpreting tables, graphs & diagrams
  • Filtering information on the internet
  • Gathering relevant resources from the library
  • Interviewing significant individuals
  • Accessing unconventional sources of information

At the completion of an inquiry project, students communicate what they have learned using a variety of formats, including:

  • Multi-media presentations (photography, SMARTboards, video, google applications etc.)
  • Models and diagrams
  • Written reports
  • Artwork
  • Engaging videos and interactive websites

Environmental Stewardship and Social Justice

Our children are our future leaders who will play a vital role in saving our planet and nurturing humanity. A foundational component of the Science Inquiry Program is engaging students in authentic projects with real-world connections that focus on social justice and environmental activism. This could include:

  • Fundraising for nature conservation groups
  • Developing and maintaining green spaces
  • Composting, Recycling, Reusing & Reducing
  • Hope projects supporting people in need (locally & globally)

Student Characteristics

There are some common characteristics which are evident in students who learn best through science inquiry and project-based learning. These include some or all of the following:

  • Imagination and curiosity
  • Strength in collaborating and communicating ideas
  • Ability to work independently and interdependently in diverse group settings
  • Persistence—the drive to understand the world
  • Creative and critical thinker
  • Open to working with a variety of tools, technologies, methods and sources
  • Perseverance when faced with new challenges
  • Passionate about animals and the environment
  • Think with their words, their drawings, their heads and their hearts

As a Science Alternative Program within the District, an interview process and school tour is provided by the principal to assist parents in determining whether this approach to learning is appropriate for their child.


Early Education

Play is the Work of Children

Elmwood Early Education Program offers a play-based learning environment, provides the foundation for learning, and encourages:

  • postivie social interaction
  • literacy skills
  • scientific and mathematical reasoning
  • imaginative play
  • confidence and self-esteem
  • a positive attitude toward learning 



The Individual Support Program at Elmwood School provides programming for students in grades one through six who experience severe developmental delays. Students may also experience physical, medical and sensory needs as well as behavioural challenges.

Individual Support programming is specially designed to enhance the quality of life of the student, and to increase the student’s functional skills in the areas of communication, social interaction, concept development, self-management and personal pursuits. Individual Support programming emphasizes meaningful life experiences for students. Features of programming include:

  • structured, routine-based programming using natural contexts for learning and practicing functional skills;
  • targeting of specific goals and objectives embedded in activities throughout the student’s day;
  • support for and encouragement of student participation in various activities and environments meaningful to the student;
  • a multi-disciplinary approach and collaboration with community agencies and support service providers;
  • provision of medical interventions as required throughout the day; and
  • regular home-school communication.

The students in our ISP classroom are a valued part of our larger Elmwood School community. There are many opportunities for ISP students to join in school activities, assemblies, class activities, and field experiences. In addition, peers from grades 4 to 6 are actively involved in our “Buddy Club” and join students in the ISP class during their recess time.


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