Chevron Open Minds
The Open Minds School Program was designed by Gillian Kydd, an educator and science specialist with the Calgary Board of Education. She developed a program that focused on observation, writing skills and critical thinking while achieving curriculum objectives. The pilot school launched in 1993 at the Calgary Zoo.
Eager to be a part of such an innovative program, Chevron became involved with Zoo School in 1995, and began partnerships with Museum School and Science School in 1996. Soon Chevron expanded its sponsorship to include sites in St. John’s and Fort McMurray.
There are now 42 Open Minds sites worldwide which provide an innovative learning experience to 400 teachers and 20,000 students annually. Five Canadian sites remain fully funded by Chevron.
Each Zoo School class has the unique opportunity to go behind the scenes at the Calgary Zoo as part of the innovative, hands-on learning program. Enabling young students to have close encounters with the Zoo’s diverse family of creatures often inspires them to see learning in a completely new way.
“Chevron has been integral to the program since the beginning,” says Kelly Small, Zoo School coordinator. She says that Chevron has a unique level of involvement and commitment to the program in that Chevron constantly strives to support the school more effectively and to improve the program itself.
At the Glenbow Museum, Open Minds classes learn to slow down, think deeply and think critically. Through the use of artifacts and artwork, students are taught to observe without judging. Topics range from unique aspects of foreign cultures to abstract concepts such as time and space. Kids who come in thinking museums are boring leave after five days with a new level excitement about museums, school and learning in general.
Each week’s program is personalized for the students, and through this customization, “students are able to connect their lives, their memories and their interests with learning,” says Michele Gallant, Museum School coordinator. “The kids are transformed by the people and stories they learn about here.”
Add a spark of imagination to basic science skills, and watch as a budding student builder transforms a simple rubber band into a motor for a model race car. At Science School, kids learn to harness their imagination. The rubber band race car is only one example of how the hands-on learning experience gets young minds revving.
All children, no matter their individual interests, will find at least one area of science that excites them at Science School. The program’s coordinator and teachers take Alberta science curriculum and bring it to life with hands-on activities. The new mini-scientists don’t just absorb the lessons—they capture the concepts they are learning in journals that prompt them to think deeply and make connections to their everyday lives.
At The Rooms, Open Minds classes are given free rein to explore the art gallery, museum and archives; they even get to go behind the scenes to see how the collections are stored and cared for. Here, students get to slow down and become deeply immersed in the “real world” outside the classroom.
Students learn from experts at The Rooms School—people such as curators, archivists, conservators and collections managers. As they encounter artwork, artifacts, archival material and specimens, they acquire new critical thinking and problem-solving skills, while also developing their writing, learning and enhanced literacy abilities.
Children in Fort McMurray do not have access to the scale of cultural and educational resources available to children in Calgary and St. John’s. The Chevron Open Minds Heritage Park Museum School is one-of-a-kind in the city, making it invaluable for children in northern Alberta. The program allows them to get up close and personal with historic buildings and artifacts.
The energy industry in Fort McMurray brings families from all over the world. In Heritage Park Museum School, the students are encouraged to apply their global perspective to local history, making it a truly horizon-broadening experience.