Education program

Connecting students to the world

Port of Vancouver Discovery Centre Free Field TripAs Canada’s largest port, the Port of Vancouver plays a significant role in Canada’s economy and in enabling the country’s trade objectives. The port is Canada’s western gateway to over 170 trading countries around the world and handles the most diverse range of cargo of any port in North America. Understanding how trade impacts our country is important, which is why we offer a specialized education program specifically designed to support grade four to six students curriculum guidelines, as outlined by the British Columbia Ministry of Education. Please see our Curriculum Connections-MOE.

This interactive education program shows students how their lives are connected to the port and allows them to see that connection in action by observing the working port.

Through this program, students will learn about Canada’s largest and most diversified port through activities that encourage:

  • hands-on learning through doing, touching, watching, hearing and reading
  • activities that promote reflection, inquiry, critical thinking and creativity
  • individual and group communication through actions, words and pictures

Designed to build on students’ awareness of the importance of trade in our lives and the role of the Port of Vancouver in facilitating trade, this program covers:

  • what a port is
  • the five business sectors at the port
  • imports, exports and international trade
  • what makes our port a sustainable one

In addition to the formal program, we also have online learning resources and activities available for classrooms related to the presentation, such as quizzes, word searches, crossword puzzles, supplemental videos, map and Kahoot activities below.

Booking information and presentation options

Option 1: Virtual field trip for grades four, five and six classes with our community outreach coordinator. To book please Schedule parts 1 and 2 online hosted on MS Teams or Zoom.
Part 1: 60 minute presentation (intro to the port and five business sectors)
Part 2: 60 minute presentation (sustainability, imports/exports, international trade, occupations and review)

Option 2: A pre-recorded presentation, with eight segments, hosted by our community outreach coordinator. The links are located below and may be viewed anytime. Activities may be completed after watching each video with your class.
Note: If you have booked the “live” virtual presentations, please do not watch the videos part 1-8 below. The content is covered in the “live” virtual presentations.

Option 3: We will be resuming in-person field trips for grades four, five and six classes at our Port of Vancouver Discovery Centre in September of 2022.

To learn more about the education program, please contact our community outreach coordinator by filling out our contact us form. In the dropdown for nature of feedback, choose school program and education. You may also call 604.665.9038.

Presentation, activities and resources

Pre-presentation activities
Activity: What happens at the Port of Vancouver-instructions, what happens at the Port of Vancouver – activity sheet
Kahoot game: Port vocabulary

Part 1: What happens at the Port of Vancouver?

Presentation video part 1: An introduction to what a port is, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and what happens at the Port of Vancouver.

Activity: Port vocabulary wordsearch, Port vocabulary wordsearch answer key
Infographic: What is a Canada port authority
Video: Port of Vancouver – aerial tour
Activity: Maps activity – teacher instructions, maps – activity sheet, maps activity answer sheet

Part 2: Automobiles

Presentation video part 2: Information about the five business sectors. The first is automobile.

Part 3: Breakbulk

Presentation video part 3: Information about the five business sectors . The second is breakbulk.

Video: What it feels like to be on a log drive on B.C.’s Fraser River

Part 4: Bulk

Presentation video part 4: Information about the five business sectors. The third is bulk, focusing on the top four exports: coal, grain, potash and sulphur.

Video: Sulphur – behind the scenes at Vancouver Wharves
Video: Port and mining community connection
Video: Sulphur –  scientific explanation

Part 5: Container

Presentation video part 5: Information about the five business sectors. The fourth is container.

Activity: Journey of a shipping container: The Port of Vancouver plays a critical role in Canada’s trade. Learn about the history of containers, benefits of containers, what is inside containers. Learn about some import and export stories.
Activity: Port of Vancouver container maze
Video: Containerization

Part 6: Cruise

Presentation video part 6: Information about the five business sectors. The fifth is cruise.

Video: Cruise  (start at 43 seconds in)

Part 7: Environment

Presentation video part 7: Information about the environmental team at the Port Authority and a few of the projects they are working on.

Website: Shore power
Video: Shore power
Video: ECHO 
Soundclip: Whale song and ship
Video: Cleaning up the Fraser River

Part 8: International trade, imports/exports and sustainability

Presentation video part 8: The conclusion of the presentation with international trade, the story of an import and sustainability.

Activity: The importance of international trade – discussion questions
Kahoot Game: International trade at the Port of Vancouver
People of the Port – occupations
Video: Harbour patrol officer
Video: Paul the blueberry farmer
Video: Colleen with Freshpoint Produce
Video: Dave the tug boat captain
Video: Logistics and chickpeas

Presentation review

Activity: Crossword puzzle, crossword puzzle answer key
Activity: Review – environment, cruise
Activity: Review – trade, RoRo
Kahoot game: Port of Vancouver Trivia Challenge

Virtual harbour tour: Burrard Inlet

Experience the sights and sounds of a busy harbour while learning about Canada’s largest and most diversified port. Get an up-close look at port operations in the Burrard Inlet and learn some interesting facts about living in a port city with our virtual harbour tour.

Download the Port of Vancouver community map to follow along during the tour!

Duration: 20 minutes

Virtual harbour tour: Fraser River

Experience a virtual harbour tour of the Fraser River, the longest and most iconic river in the province, and a vital waterway in the Port of Vancouver. This tour is led by Lisa from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s community relations team.

Download the Port of Vancouver community map to follow along during the tour!

Duration: 13 minutes

Other related resources
Minerals Education – learning resources
Vancouver Maritime Museum – #VMM Online Tools
Fraser River Discovery Centre – [email protected]!
North Vancouver Museum and Archives – online programs
Buster Bear Adventures – videos suitable for younger grades
Part 1
“Go West, Young Bear, A Buster Bear Adventure”, Captain Nemo sends Buster on a quest around Vancouver… Buster
learns about First Nations settlements in the area, and the history of Moodyville, and its famous mill…”

Part 2
In this next episode in Buster Bear’s Vancouver quest, Steve Adore fills Buster in on the importance of containers to
shipping, and how the first containers EVER were shipped from North Vancouver… Buster gets a bird’s-eye “bearspective”
on Burrard Inlet, and all the amazing things that move through the port each year…”

Reviews and feedback

“Thank you so much for your presentation and to the port authority for providing a free educational field trip. The students and I were engaged and learned more about the port in an entertaining format. The hands-on activities, that included the map puzzle, the load-the-carrier race, and touchscreen assignment, enhanced their understanding. They were also moving their legs that broke up the sit-and-listen period. The students can now explain to their peers and parents the sights and sound that encircle the Burrard Inlet and the other coasts of Metro Vancouver. The presentation thrilled us!”

“Awesome program that provides a memorable day full of learning- thank you!”

“The program was well run and well paced. The students enjoyed the program and everyone (including myself and the parent volunteers) learned a lot about the port and the activities that happen there. I look forward to taking future classes to this program.”

“I was so impressed with this program. Been teaching 25 years and I have to say it was one of the most organized, clearly laid out and interesting field trips I’ve been on.”

Discovery Centre-Education Presentation-page 1
Discovery Centre- kids-2
Discovery Centre-benches
Discovery Centre-presentation-1
Discovery Centre-kids-benches