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Science and nature meet at Langevin School’s outdoor classroom

Published on February 28, 2013

Students at Langevin School enjoying their new green school ground. Photo: Langevin School.Students at Langevin School enjoying their new green school ground (Photo: Langevin School)

Langevin School in Calgary is well-known for its inquiry-based Science Alternative Program, so it’s no wonder their school ground greening project embodies many elements of the K–9 Science curriculum. It also reflects their Schoolyard Committee’s desire to create a dynamic, interactive learning environment.

Recognizing the educational value of the planning process, the Schoolyard Committee and the landscape designer, Leta van Duin, engaged the 631 students and their families in the conceptualization, design and installation. “Now that I have planted a tree,” said one volunteer, “I feel like I am a part of the schoolyard.” Students had also expressed an interest in a rain garden, hill slides, boulders, stepping-stones and logs, so those elements were integrated into the design too.

And what green schoolyard would be truly green without trees? With the support of the Toyota Evergreen Learning Grounds program, the school was able to plant 32 native trees such as lodgepole pine, bur oak, Brandon elm and trembling aspen, all of which will contribute to a positive environmental legacy. For information about which native species are best suited for your schoolyard, check out our Recommended Plant Lists.

The Cosmic Vortex Amphitheatre. Photo: Langevin School.The Cosmic Vortex Amphitheatre (Photo: Langevin School)

In addition to the outdoor classroom, dubbed the Cosmic Vortex Amphitheatre due to the spiral artwork on the tiled floor, they installed a cistern for stormwater capture and re-use, which is fundamental to the sustainability of the project. This unique feature will provide water to the newly planted trees and shrubs through irrigation channels.

Newly planted trees and shrubs, and other features such as stump benches in the schoolyard. Photo: Langevin School.Newly planted trees and shrubs, and other features such as stump benches in the schoolyard
(Photo: Langevin School)

The school has also documented the transformation on their blog, so everyone can stay updated on the multi-phase construction and its community-wide impact. In fact, after learning about the project, a local business owner (and school alumnus) made an in-kind donation to apologize for stealing a tool from the school’s shop more than 15 years ago!

If you think your local school or daycare would benefit from a school grounds greening project or food garden, check out our website for eligibility requirements and application guidelines. The final application deadline for the 2012–2013 school year is May 31, 2013.