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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Children's environmental knowing : a case study of children's experiences during an environmental education programme Scott, Sandra Anne


This study explores children's experiences during WaterWorlds (pseudonym) a field-based environmental education programme at a marine science centre. The study objectives were to investigate how children understand and interpret their experiences, and how these experiences foster their environmental knowing. To address these objectives, I carried out a case study at a marine science centre in British Columbia. I examined children's WaterWorlds experiences and explored their environmental understandings and commitment to environmental action. I analysed the experiences of children in four separate classes and carried out an in-depth examination of four individual children. Data were collected using informal semi-structured interviews, observations, conversations, researcher journal logs, and student documents including their writing and illustrations. My findings indicate that the WaterWorlds programme experience fosters children's environmental knowing. Participation in WaterWorlds activities led to connection, caring, and concern for other species and in some cases, for the marine environment as a whole. During the programme, children chose the ways they interpreted and expressed their environmental knowledge, ethic of care, advocacy, and commitment to action. This development of each child's self-expression resulted in motivational and powerful learning experiences that inspired and nurtured their connections to the earth. This research provides evidence and examples of how educators can foster children's environmental knowing through multi-disciplinary environmental education experiences. It illustrates that activities such as observing and documenting the lives of other animal species, collecting data and conducting research on those species, and working and learning alongside experts in the field of environmental education are powerful experiences that motivate concern and care for the earth among children.

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