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Partnering with Ski-Hills for Active Learning

Originally appears in the Summer 2017 issue

“Efforts to engage students in and through the natural environment go by many names… but the basic goal is this: to use the surrounding community, including nature, as the preferred classroom.” Richard Louv1

In regions that enjoy cold temperatures and snow each winter, you will often find small community-run ski parks. These local resources are much loved, but they are often underutilized. As we looked for a way to better engage the community near our ski park on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, a dedicated group of volunteers joined forces to develop an outdoor classroom on the site.  Our idea was to bring more children to the ski hill for diversified activities. We envisioned taking students’ annual ski trips beyond their normal focus on developing sports skills, so as to embrace other learning opportunities.

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Kathy Snow is an assistant professor of education at Cape Breton University, in Sydney, Nova Scotia, who focuses on science and technology education through teaching and outreach activities. Annamarie Hatcher holds an Adjunct Professor’s position in Unama’ki College, Cape Breton University and is on the board of Governors of the Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve Association. Full details of the lessons can be found at and


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