New technology creates learning opportunity

New technology and a progressive curriculum that combines science and civics could be in classrooms this year.

A student uses the BC Tomorrow mobile app to teach students about ecology and land-use issues.

New technology and  a progressive curriculum that combines science and civics could be in classrooms this year.

Considered to be a powerful aid to students and teachers, BC Tomorrow Society’s innovative Internet website, landscape simulator and mobile app will use cutting-edge GIS technology and satellite imagery to explore options for balancing human land use with ecological integrity.

“BC Tomorrow will enable students to engage in an interactive exploration of land use in B.C. watersheds, develop critical thinking skills, and improve their understanding of system dynamics,” says BC Tomorrow Society president Barry Wilson, noting the society intends to make the website available free of charge. “As the world’s population continues to grow towards nine billion, there is an unprecedented need for current and future generations to find a safe operating space for our planet.”

Local teacher and society vice-president David Ramsay is looking forward to helping students engage in their own watershed and community using these tools in his Salmon Arm Secondary classroom.

“BC Tomorrow’s land-use simulator using its multi-disciplinary approach where economics, environment, and society are considered, aligns extremely well with our evolving education system’s current redesign that aims to better engage learners while providing skills for the 21st century,” he says.

Development of this technology will require significant startup investment, but once the software and website are coded, the annual operating costs are expected to be significantly less. The society hopes to raise $184,000 before summer to get the software and website available for use in schools for the fall semester.

“It sounds like a lot of money, but in reality it is about 30 cents per student,” says Wilson, noting that while the online application was originally based on a similar project in Alberta, BC Tomorrow goes beyond. “A mobile app will allow students to go out into the field, register their findings on their mobile and send them to their classroom so that when they return to the school, their data will be there to share.”

BC Tomorrow Society is now a Canada Revenue Agency registered charity enabling it to issue tax receipts for donations and will also allow the society to apply for grants.

To learn more and to donate, visit www.bctomorrow.ca.