EcoSchools: Natural Science at W.P. Wagner High School

Edmonton, 2021 - 2022 School Year

This 50-year old greenhouse is home to amazing Career and Technology Studies / Natural Sciences programs led by Scott McMillan at W.P. Wagner High School. The greenhouse is separated into three levels, plus an isolation hallway for diseased plants, and a prep room. The neighbouring orchard has been generously supported by a local arborist with a passion for education. 

The Natural Sciences program offers students an opportunity to excel in practice: students plant, care for, propagate and harvest flowers, vegetables, and trees. They manage pests, clean & tidy, sift soil, and build hydroponic systems (including Dutch Buckets, Deep Water Culture, and Nutrient Film Technique). Scott has been very successful fundraising to grow and support the program with grants e.g. from Farm to Cafeteria Canada.

W.P. Wagner is the first Edmonton school to apply for certification with EcoSchools Canada, and they are aiming for Platinum! Scott appreciates how the EcoSchools framework makes it easy for work to be continued by a colleague.

Let's see some pictures:


Here Scott McMillan shows a colleague around the prep room, and demonstrates the physical preparation of apricot seeds his students are doing with instruction from Dustin Bajer, founder of Shrubscriber. The apricot seeds are collected locally and stored in the prep room fridge until they are ready for planting. 

The brown bag in a black stand is a worm composter, a kind of vermicomposting set up with support from Annelida Organics.

You can also see the violet grow light where students have started plants from seed and a black grow tent.

Scott McMillan points out the humidification system he has installed in the greenhouse

This year, Wagner students have designed and planted hanging baskets with different flower plugs that will be sold at a fundraiser.

The students fabricated and assembled this hydroponic Dutch Bucket system that successfully grows tomatoes, cucumbers, and corn.

This is a deep water culture hydroponic system. The students independently collected seeds from the beans grown in this system, and started new plants without instruction. Scott likes to see his students take initiative, and has created the natural science program from a horticulture program to enable studies such as entomology - encouraging what his students are curious about.

The greenhouse also houses this water feature with few benches for relaxation - the perfect Sit Spot.

Students lovingly care for plants that are significant to their friends or classmates, such as this amaryllis.

Scott McMillan had his own elementary-aged kids make a GOOS paper bin for his classroom. His students have been using good-on-one-side paper for years, and now they have the flashy EcoSchools bin to celebrate their reflective, reciprocal, and responsible practices.