Today’s post comes from Jessica Stillman, School Outreach Coordinator at Bronte Creek Provincial Park.
What do a polar bear, a prickly pear cactus, a five-lined skink and a bobolink have in common?
Aside from their catchy names, they are plants and animals that require unique environments to survive. Some of these special spaces have changed and disappeared throughout history.
That’s where Ontario Parks comes into play. We protect important landscapes and conduct research on how we can ensure species that live in parks can thrive.
This year, we are excited to share park science during Science Literacy Week.
The science of protection.
With more than 330 provincial parks spread across the province, Ontario Parks protects a wide range of climates.
A naturalist tracks wildlife using radio telemetry
From as far north as the shores of Hudson Bay to the southern tip of Ontario, we protect climate zones with harsh winters, mild rainy seasons, heat waves and snow storms.
These protected climates influence the plants and animals that live in them, producing the diverse range of iconic habitats and landscapes that we have come to associate with our abundant park system.
To better understand the relationship between an area’s climate and the species that inhabit it, park staff have conducted research and monitoring projects for decades.
Our naturalists use insect nets to complete insect surveys.
These projects deepen our understanding of protected areas. The ingenuity of our scientists and the impactful discoveries they make shape each park’s protection story.
Even if the science that happens inside a park isn’t obvious, trust us, it’s there!
What is Scientific Literacy Week?
#SciLitWeek shows the diversity of Canadian science and how it is shaping our lives. This year it will take place from September 20 to 26.
It gives museums, libraries, science centers, schools, nonprofits, and parks the opportunity to come together to highlight our unique relationships with science.
The theme of this year’s #SciLitWeek is “C is for Climate.” If you haven’t discovered it yet, Ontario Parks is getting ready to share stories about our unique climates with you.
How can I participate?
Our Discovery staff has curated some amazing Science Literacy Week activities.
Whether you’re learning in a classroom or from home, we’re eager to share stories from Ontario’s fascinating landscapes.
We are excited to offer two live events:
30-45 minutes. September 21, 2021 at 1:00 p.m.
The wandering Bronte Creek continues to cut a gully into the Queenston Shale, creating different slopes and cliff orientations along it.
These generate a variety of microclimates along the ravine that allow specialized plants and animals to find homes.
Join us virtually at Bronte Creek Provincial Park to see these incredible microclimates and the species that live in them!
Living on a sand dune
30 minutes. September 23, 2021 at 1:00 p.m.
The freshwater sand dunes of Pinery Provincial Park are a rare and incredible habitat.
The climate here is intense, so plants and animals have adapted to living in desert-like conditions.
Join us to find out how they can survive.
Can’t join us live? Both programs will be available later on the Pinery and Bronte Creek Facebook pages.
Exploring on your own?
Search Ontario Parks on the Science Literacy Week website to see our suggested self-guided activities.
Explore our Flipgrid page to find video activities that support the Ontario Curriculum.
Scientific Literacy Week may only happen once a year, but science never sleeps!
There are many different ways you can support the scientific initiatives taking place in parks near you.
Submitting wildlife sightings to park staff, volunteering on park projects, or participating in self-monitoring programs such as Pinery’s Photomon stations or bat detector programs are great ways to contribute to science in the area. parks.
We can’t forget one of our favorite ways visitors can participate in community science: iNaturalist!
Do you see something interesting? Submit your sightings in the app to be identified. Your observations help park staff better understand the park’s biodiversity and the location of critical habitats.
Let’s share some science!
Science is everywhere. This Scientific Literacy Week, let’s learn about it!
Whether you tune in to one of our workshops or learn on your own, we hope you take the time to learn a little more about our protected areas.
Share your story about the science of the park? Be sure to tag us in your #SciLitWeek learning using @OntarioParks.