News Release

REF NO.: 99

SUBJECT: Students learn about Beaumont Hamel through botany

DATE: December 18, 2014

Members of Memorial University’s Faculty of Education, along with Distance Education, Learning and Teaching Support (DELTS) and the Botanical Garden, have partnered to develop The Great War Project, a learning experience designed to teach students in Grades 5-7 about the First World War.

Fred Hawksley, associate professor, Faculty of Education, formed The Great War Project Group in 2012, with the objective of developing a creative and innovative approach to engaging young students in the Great War and the centennial years 2014-18. The Great War Project is a drama-in-education and inquiry-based learning experience that takes students through a role-play activity.

The activity beings when a 97-year-old bontanist’s field notebook Is found, describing the vegetation of the Somme battlefield, including Beaumont Hamel. It also contains the names of communities and descriptions of the landscape as seen in 1917. The notebook is presented to a botanical science company, i.e., the participating students, with a request to explore the document and report on their findings.

As the story unfolds, students discover the Trail of the Caribou and the official War Diary of the Newfoundland Regiment. To conclude, students write a report of their findings to the client on where the notebook came from and the circumstances of that time.

Mr. Hawksley has had an interest in the Great War since the early 1970s when he discovered his grandfather was involved in the Battle of the Somme. He hopes that students will develop the same interest and awareness of the role Newfoundland and Labrador played in the war through the project.

 “We have been developing ways to bring students into a relationship with the Great War, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and Newfoundland during these significant years of 1914-18, through an inquiry-oriented, interdisciplinary, student-centred approach,” he said. “It is very important that young people are engaged in these centennial years, and we hope our Great War Project will create opportunities for this to happen.”

To date one school, St. Bonaventure’s College in St. John’s, has participated in this exercise. Five schools in total are scheduled to participate. As the first school finishes the project, participating teachers will become mentors to the next school, and so on. Data will be collected to form a teachers’ guide for the project that will be available to all schools in the province. Funding for the initial phase was provided through Memorial’s WW100 commemoration program.

Mr. Hawksley says that this project has several benefits to Memorial and to the students of the province, including educating them about the Great War and how Memorial University came to be a living memorial. This project also contributes to the university’s outreach to young people across Newfoundland and Labrador, providing them with rich learning resources.


About Memorial University

Memorial University College was established in 1925 as a living memorial to those who lost their lives on active service during the First World War. Through its WW100 commemoration program, the university is undertaking a wide range of initiatives and activities that recognize its origin as a living memorial.


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