Integrated Programming

Children thrive on solving authentic problems in the classroom and making true contributions to society.  Authentic problem solving rarely resides only within the confines of a ‘math’ or ‘science’ or ‘language’ problem.  Rather, it is the interplay between these subjects, the creativity of the learner, and the learner’s ability to construct meaning and make connections that will bring about novel solutions.  Thus, Headwaters Academy firmly believes in integrated and inquiry-based studies.

Integration happens on many fronts, but the three key programs that support sustained problem-based projects are during the weekly:

  • Trailblazer Problem-Based Learning classes
  • Research and Design (R & D) Classes
  • Social Science & Life Science Classes

Each program has structured studies as well as the opportunity for students to choose their topic area of inquiry.

(a) Headwaters Academy Trailblazer Program

Each Thursday is Trailblazer Day!  Throughout all three semesters, students take part in mini problem-based courses that build skills in entrepreneurship, engineering, measurement, and technology. These courses take place on site or in the community.

The Headwaters Academy Trailblazer program gives students the opportunity to solve issues rooted in social studies and the life sciences.  Encapsulated within the Trailblazer Program are applications of foundational skills of data management and probability based on the mathematics expectations from the Ontario, Alberta and US Common Core curriculum. Students will engage in polling and graphing,  yield and market research, and comparing data. A sample Trailblazer project might be the study of maple syrup production at one of our Outdoor Education sites in the Beaver Valley.

During the maple syrup study students are challenged to not only understand the production process, but study and engage in forest management, tapping, boiling, packaging, marketing, business planning, market research, and ultimately finding the most environmentally friendly and business-friendly means by which to take the syrup or value added products (with the help of a local chef) to market.

The table below is a non-exhaustive description of how participation in the maple syrup production process integrates multiple academic concepts, skills, and the acquisition of knowledge. Studying in this method motivates students to learn and they can remember and apply their learning to other contexts long after the experience. This type of learning is the hallmark of a Headwaters Academy education.


Reading, writing, researching, critical response, media literacy, presenting ideas (oral communication)


Math • Measurement
{Length of tubing, area of sugar bush, density of trees, circumference of trees, volume of sap, volume of syrup, etc}
• Numeracy
{Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division – examples such as taps per acre, yield per tap, profit/loss, economy of scale, etc}
• Data Management
{Polling and graphing – yield and market research; comparing data –
reverse osmosis versus standard energy requirements, etc}
• Geometry and Spatial Sense
{Modeling sugar bush, comparing efficiency of boiler pan shape, etc}
• Probability and Algebra
{Create a predictive model of sap/syrup yield and quality level from
which to make proper decisions with regards to filtration systems, tubing/spile placement, marketing, etc}
Science • Osmosis
• Filtration
• Density
• Photosynthesis/bush management (biology)
• Refraction
• Energy and comparison of fuel sources
• Sustainable syrup production/minimization of lost energy
• Viscosity
• Gravitational pull versus friction/pressure in lines
• Vacuum systems
• Solar energy, wind energy, geothermal systems
Social Science • History and place of maple syrup production in Canada’s history/the
Canadian psyche
• Current market trends/people’s understanding of alternative sugars
and diets, organic preferences, etc.


(b) Headwaters Academy Research and Design Program

 The Headwaters Academy R & D Program, gives students the opportunity to be immersed in the physical, chemical and engineering sciences. Students engage in regular experimentation to emulate and apprentice as scientists, as well as take part in a key semester project with the purpose of understanding more fully how to make things function. The R & D classes explicitly teach the measurement expectations from the Ontario, Alberta and US Common Core math curriculum.

(c) Headwaters Academy Social Science and Life Science Programs

 The Headwaters Academy Social Science and Life Science programs give students the opportunity to examine local and global issues and recommend change. In addition to taking part in a concentrated approach to social studies and life science, students are responsible for completing a full-scale inquiry that requires data management based on the mathematics expectations from the Ontario, Alberta and US Common Core curriculum. Students will engage in polling and graphing, yield and market research, data comparison and expert interviews. A sample project might focus on Grey County’s changing winters. For instance, a guiding question might be:

What are the short and long term impacts of a shifting winter season? 

This study is multi-faceted:

  • Have winters changed or is it merely public perception? (To be answered using historic climate data)
  • If there is a change, what is it related to? (Interviews with experts, studies of global warming, consideration of ice coverage of Georgian Bay, precipitation patterns, etc)
  • What is the impact on agriculture? Tourism? Retail commerce? Christmas spending patterns? Etc…
  • What is the impact on our natural world locally?
  • What are the major problems associated with shorter or longer winters? How might these be mitigated?
  • In terms of local ski/winter tourism, what is the probability that ski seasons/snowmobile seasons, etc. will be the same in 2040? 2060? What technologies can ‘save’ these industries? Should they be saved?

The Arts at Headwaters Academy

Headwaters Academy students participate in a strong Arts program enhanced by regular musical practice and immersive studies in the visual arts and drama.  Our students will benefit from the expertise of local artists and performers as guest instructors.


Physical Education at Headwaters Academy

 Headwaters Academy firmly believes in quality daily physical education and activity.  Our students benefit from a physical education specialist designing quality lessons that utilize our unique position on 110 acres on the Niagara Escarpment.  We pride ourselves on ensuring that all of students reach Health Canada’s recommended daily physical activity guidelines.


Watermarks Class

 All students will take part in a character education, service learning and health education class on a regular basis. The development of social and emotional intelligences not only support thinking and understanding in all subject areas, it also sets the table for helping young people reduce their carbon footprint. This course, developed in the context of appreciating nature, the outdoors, self and others has been developed to promote reflective and compassionate learning.


Kinder Stream | Primary Stream (Grades 1-2) | Junior Stream (Grades 3-5) | Senior Stream (Grades 6-8) |  Distinct Academic Programs