One of the elements that makes the Da Vinci Program unique is its commitment to cultivating strong, sustainable and just communities, both local and global. By being situated off-site from traditional school, in the arboretum at the University of Guelph, the program is well-positioned for accessing the many educational resources offered through both the university and the community of Guelph at large. Combined with an emphasis on experiential and integrated learning, this engagement with community allows for enrichment of the academic curriculum in ways that are difficult to achieve in the traditional model. Click on the tabs below to see the range of experiences offered.
Killarney Canoe Trip
In the 3rd week of school, students go on a 5 day trip to Killarney Provincial Park. A favourite of the Group of Seven, Canada's most celebrated landscape painters, the park provides an incredible opportunity for students to come together as a team, immerse themselves in the beauty of nature, and learn how to live in nature in as harmonious a way as possible. Highlights of the trip include hiking to the top of Silver Peak to take in its stunning panoramic view, sustainable art lessons and time to sketch and journal, as well as musical campfires in the evening.
Throughout the semester, students participate in a variety of labs and other resources at the University of Guelph, including the Biodiversity Institute, The Aquatic Lab, the Bee Lab, the Human Anatomy Lab, and the Ontario Veterinary College. Other resources on campus or close by include CFRU, the campus and community radio station, MacDonald Stewart Art Centre, and Ed Video. To facilitate their studies and research in their four courses, students are also given a university student card and taught how to access the information technologies available at the university library.
Throughout the semester, guest speakers and community teachers are brought in to enrich the learning experience. Some of the workshops in the past have included the Focus on Nature photography workshop, the Wild Bird Clinic, graphic novel design, portrait painting with Greg Denton, theatre workshops with the Classical Theatre Project, and sound art workshops with the Community Sound (E) Scapes Project.
Throughout the semester, students also draw heavily on the teachings of the arboretum naturalist, Chris Earley.
Through the years, students at Da Vinci have taken on a wide variety of community engagement projects. Some of these have included river clean-up, the creation of a biodiversity awareness advertising campaign that had students create posters that were placed on city buses, a campaign to bring awareness to the plight of birds in urban areas, the Community Sound (E) Scapes Project, an international project for the mapping out of local spaces through sound, as well as the creation of a city map that linked public transportation with local hiking trails. Through these experiences, students learn to go beyond their textbooks to apply their problem-solving and organizational skills to a real-world issue affecting their communities. Click on the buttons below to see some of the projects from previous years.