Worms Compost Food Waste in Middle School

Vermicomposting began by setting up two worm bins on the Academy’s main floor, preparing a habitat for the wiggly decomposers before placing them in their new home. From here, students used the worm bins to deepen their understanding of natural and human-made systems, learn worm anatomy, graph and analyze waste management and much more! The amazing vermicomposter was the perfect tool for integrating multiple curricula at the start of the middle school’s Living Things and the Land unit.

Middle School: Expedition to the Toronto Island!

The students were grinning from ear to ear with backpacks full of lovingly packed snacks as we boarded the ferry to head over to Toronto Island. It was a magnificently sunny day, and the sky was a crisp blue. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect way to begin a new school year. The students continue to remind each other of fond memories from the trip such as…

“Having fun collecting wood for the fire.” – Matteo

“Taking the subway. It was fun to ride! The streetcar was also pretty satisfying” – Nico

“We were exploring the forest!” – Georgia

“The red ant bites were… PAIN. But, the rest of the trip was FUN!” – Charlos

“All I want to say is… YMCA” – Julian

“We had the creamiest hot chocolate ever!” – CP

“When Charlie and I were running from the wasps. We were almost crying, we were laughing so hard. It was so fun!” – Elliott

“When we got to eat gooey smores!” – Shea

“The moment when the whole class raced to the top of the play structure” – MJ

Thanks for the memories, Toronto Island! We hope to come again soon!

Annual Cedar Glen Trip

After missing our beloved yearly trip to Cedar Glen for the first time in 2020, Academy staff and students made the yearly trip once again. Given current circumstances, this year’s trip was a day trip instead of our usual overnight outings. Students departed from the Academy at 9:30 am on the morning of October 22, new maroon and navy swag baseball caps on their heads. The excitement level on both buses was high as staff and students travelled down the highway.

After arriving and disembarking from the bus, the school was greeted by Cedar Glen staff, who after a brief welcome, led us in various short games. Afterwards, students split into one of 2 groups for the morning activities. One group participated in archery while the other in low ropes activities and games. At the halfway point of the day, the entire school gathered at the amphitheater where we were served pizza.

With lunch and the morning activities complete, the trip’s main event was ready to begin. Students were split into their advisory group squads (maroon and navy) and began the yearly anticipated Academy Games. Groups from each squad rotated amongst five stations, racing against the clock. Rock climbing, archery, trivia, and ragata challenges awaited every group as they ran from one station to the next. The game culminated at the fire building station where both squads raced to be the first to build a fire and burn through a string. After a competitive race, the maroon squad ended up on top, winning their third consecutive Academy Games. In a show of sportsmanship, the maroon squad cheered on the navy squad until they too could burn through their rope. We can’t wait until we can do it all again!

Check out the rest the rest of the pictures on our Facebook page!

Humber College Innovate-a-Thon

In partnership with the YMCA Academy Civics and Careers classes, teams of GTA college students had 48 hours over the weekend of October 23rd to create innovative solutions for the YMCA Academy. Humber College Centre for Entrepreneurship, with the help of YMCA Academy staff, students, and alumni put on the Humber College Innovate-a-thon.

Academy students and Alumni conducted interview videos to show the teams of college students what learning at the Academy is like, and what challenges were in the transition to college.

Academy Assistant Head of School, Kaili Glennon gave the opening keynote speech to the teams of college students, introducing the teams to the Academy. Over the weekend the teams worked tirelessly to find an innovative solution to the question: “How might the YMCA Academy better support students as they transition from High School to Post Secondary?”

At the end of the weekend the college teams made pitch videos. The Academy Civics and Careers classes designed score cards, and judged the pitch videos based on a range of criteria that they helped co-create.

Academy students connected deeply with the potential solutions and expressed that they felt inspired by the possibilities of how entrepreneurship and civic action can come together to prepare students for future readiness, solving the problems of tomorrow, and overcoming the challenges of today.

The pitches from the college teams were designed to offer students greater autonomy, supported independence, more access to resources, and a better understanding of the supports that they are entitled to once they transition to their post-secondary pathways.

Extracting and isolating DNA from strawberry cells

What is DNA? DNA is a molecule that contains the genetic code for our proteins. The students in the Grade 11 Biology class were actively lysing strawberry cells to extract and isolate DNA from the nuclei of strawberry cells. The scientists in training first used detergent to break into the cell membrane then lastly used ethanol alcohol to precipitate the DNA from solution. A sample of DNA was collected and observed under the microscope. The students recorded many observations while asking several inquiry questions throughout the DNA investigation. Everyone has been investigating the genetic code and the experiment was a great opportunity to observe DNA in living cells.