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Ali Farlow-Troy is a Science and Physical Education teacher in the Senior and Middle School.
April 19, 2017
Science Teacher Explores to Explain
Being selected as a National Geographic Grosvenor Teachers Fellow is a huge honour for Branksome’s Ali Farlow-Troy, a Science and Physical Education teacher in the Senior and Middle School. She is one of only two Canadians among 35 educators who have been chosen for this prestigious professional development opportunity. “It’s still kind of sinking in,” she beams.

In July, Ms Farlow-Troy will begin her 15-day expedition to the Canadian High Arctic. After travelling to Iceland, Greenland, Lancaster Sound and Baffin Island, she will bring her first-hand knowledge back to her Branksome classroom. “As a proud Canadian who is excited about our 150th birthday, this expedition was my number one choice. I was really enticed by the idea of exploring and educating my students about Canada’s North,” she says.

The Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program is named after Gilbert M. Grosvenor, former Chairman of the National Geographic Society. It aims to promote excellence in K-12 geographic education, and inspire students to see themselves as stewards of the earth.

“We explore to explain,” says Ali. “When I can attach a real-life story to a concept, it helps students care a little more. I’ll have access to a 360-degree camera on the trip. With the virtual reality equipment that we have here at Branksome, I can create an immersive experience for students. Students can put my photos into their phones, put on a virtual reality headset and feel like they are on an arctic journey.”

Trips will be led by Lindblad Expeditions, who provide a team of expert naturalists and are donating accommodations on board the National Geographic Explorer, an ice-class expedition ship. “I’m extremely excited about seeing whales, polar bears and the icy landscape,” says Ali.

In March, Ms Farlow-Troy traveled to the National Geographic Headquarters in Washington, D.C., to participate in workshops with Lindblad naturalists and past Fellows. Her travel partner on board National Geographic Explorer will be Claire Trainor, a high school Science teacher from Chicago. “There were English, Drama, Environmental Studies and kindergarten teachers. It’s great that they chose a diverse population of educators to have this experience and bring it back to their schools. Like my Branksome colleagues, everyone was passionate to learn and teach their students about the world.”

Ms Farlow-Troy believes that multidisciplinary learning makes students into better problem solvers. “Students have to draw on many areas when facing complex problems,” she explains.

She is taking the same approach when contemplating how to apply her arctic voyage to teaching, “The Grade 9 science unit on ecology will be a natural fit with what I’ll be learning in Northern Canada. I’m also thinking about connections between nature and wellness with my Grade 7 Phys Ed or Grade 12 Sports Science classes.” Ms Farlow-Troy has a love of both subjects. “It’s a perfect combination for exploration in science.”

Ali, who has traveled to the Arctic Circle in Norway and Sweden with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), frequently talks to her students about her love for the outdoors.

“I am really passionate about engaging my students in being curious and stepping out of your comfort zone. Anything is possible.”

Ms Ali Farlow-Troy is proving that this is indeed true.

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