GUSH Workshops

GUSH Workshops for Grades 7 and 8 meet science and geography curriculum expectations while raising awareness about water challenges facing First Nations communities in Canada.

Designed and delivered by Ontario-certified teachers using a STEAM framework, each of our GUSH workshops encourages students to use inquiry, collaboration and problem-solving skills to complete a hands-on design challenge! With a focus on real-world First Nations water challenges, our workshops encourage student creativity and awareness.



Grade 7: Pollution Solutions

Science & Technology Unit: Pure Substances & Mixtures

Geography Unit: Use & Sustainability

Water is the universal solvent, so when pollutants enter our waterways, it can be quite difficult to remove them! Students are introduced to Grassy Narrows First Nation, a community that has been affected by industrial water contamination for the last fifty years. Working in teams, students are tasked with the challenge of separating mixtures and solutions, while investigating the social, environmental, and economical issues that come with resource extraction.



Grade 8: Working Watersheds

Science & Technology Unit: Water Systems

Geography Unit: Patterns & Sustainability

The economy and the environment can produce competing priorities. Through inquiry and collaboration, students explore key factors that can influence decision making and decide for themselves where their priorities lie. Classes are introduced to Northern Ontario, a region of ecological significance that is home to 31 First Nations communities. This area also hosts valuable mineral deposits, which if extracted, can provide employment opportunities and support local economies in the region. Potential drawbacks include the loss of animal habitats, land and water pollution, and disruption of traditional practices. Using unique and interactive watershed models, students work in teams to preserve or alter water flows that are vital to communities and commerce, creating a Northern Ontario that can meet or challenge the needs of a variety of stakeholders and rights holders.

  • Are GUSH workshops delivered in my school board?

  • Continually expanding, GUSH workshops are currently available to the following school boards:

    • Durham Catholic District School Board
    • Durham District School Board
    • Halton Catholic District School Board
    • Halton District School Board
    • Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School Board
    • Hamilton Wentworth District School Board
    • Simcoe County District School Board
    • Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board
    • Toronto Catholic District School Board
    • Toronto District School Board
    • Upper Grand District School Board
    • Waterloo Region Catholic District School Board
    • Waterloo Region District School Board
    • Wellington Catholic District School Board
    • York Catholic District School Board
    • York Region District School Board

    New school boards are added every year!

  • How long does a GUSH workshop last?

  • GUSH workshops last 100 minutes. Your GUSH instructor will work around regular student break times.

  • How many students can participate in a workshop?

  • GUSH workshops can accommodate a maximum of 30 students. The activities are very hands-on and become too diluted for students if we go much beyond 30 students per workshop.

  • How much does a GUSH workshop cost?

  • Each workshop costs $165.

  • Is there anything I need to provide?

  • Our instructors provide all hands-on workshop materials & equipment and only require access to:

    • Classroom projector
    • Speakers
    • Presentation table
    • Sink

Schools GUSH has Been Delivered in

  • The hands-on activities really made an important environmental issue become a dynamic and fun learning experience. My grade 8 students learned a lot and were able to express their knowledge in many different ways.

    Cynthia Roulston, Teacher

    Warden Avenue Public School

  • A fantastic program – unique materials, a strong workshop leader and clear objectives. All things we need to engage students and make them life-long environmentalists!

    Emma Mumford-Mills, Teacher

    Kleinburg Public School

  • The workshop and our instructor were exceptional. The students were engaged in a worthwhile, meaningful, relevant, and necessary conversation while also covering the curriculum expectations at the same time.

    Meghan Killman, Teacher

    St. John the Baptist Elementary School

  • Water truly comes to life with all of the engaging activities students get to experience with GUSH!

    Nabil El-Sheikh Ali, Teacher

    Beryl Ford Public School

  • Every Grade 7 and 8 class in Ontario should do workshops like these. Students had a chance to connect their knowledge of water to the social, economic, and environmental impacts that certain industries have on it.

    Jessica Montagano, Teacher

    Fairmount Public School

  • I love how this highly engaging program teaches the science curriculum through an ecological lens with a focus on Indigenous communities. Hugely powerful and informative!

    Aline Maleganovski, Teacher

    Warden Avenue Public School

The Staff

  • Dillon Koopmans, B. Ed., OCT

    Educational Programs Manager

  • Dillon holds Bachelor degrees in Geography and Education and has significant teaching experience in the junior, intermediate and senior divisions. He is also engaged as a teacher facilitator in several youth leadership courses, including Indigenous Leadership Gatherings, at the Ontario Educational Leadership Centre. Dillon is of Potawatomi descent with ancestral roots from the Parry Sound area.

  • Ted Stableforth, M.Ed., B.PHE.

    School Outreach

  • Ted was a Principal in the Simcoe District School Board for 10 years and a teacher for 25 years. Ted brings to Water First a wealth of educational and and administrative experience and a passion for educational program development and school outreach.

  • Olga Kalomiris, Hon.B.A., B.Ed.

    Outreach Instructor

  • Olga is an Ontario-certified teacher in the junior, intermediate and senior divisions, specializing in Geography, the Social Sciences, and Health and Physical Education. As an Outreach Instructor with Water First, Olga is committed to engaging and empowering youth, while raising awareness about First Nations water challenges.

  • Simone Butters

    Outreach Instructor

  • Simone is an Ontario Certified Teacher (qualified to work in the primary, junior and intermediate divisions), and an environmentally conscious citizen with a passion for social justice. While her specialization is in Science and Languages, she has also taught Geography. As an Outreach Instructor at Water First, Simone aims to positively influence change in society by educating young people with a hands-on approach about real-world First Nations water challenges in connection with water science.

  • Adrianna Bilinski, B. Ed., B.A.

    Outreach Instructor

  • Adrianna is an Ontario Certified Teacher, and a woman of Ojibwe decent front Beausoleil First Nation. She holds her Bachelors degrees in History, Gender Studies, and Education. As an educator — both outside and within Water First — her primary focus is to raise awareness of the historical and current question of equity and equality in Canada through First Nations, Métis, and Inuit views.