Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

As part of the Academy’s commitment to environmental stewardship, the entire school participated in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup on Friday, September 23. We revisited a section of the Don River that we had cleaned up three years ago: the Don River shoreline between Pottery Road and Beechwood Drive.

The Shoreline Cleanup is a nationwide event. Our school joined over 50,000 other Canadians who participate in the event annually. As part of the cleanup we had to categorize and tally all items collected. We collected and itemized over 45 pounds of garbage and recycling that afternoon! The data we collected is added to a national research database that is used to assist with environmental assessments nationwide.

While on site, students also learned some history about the Don River and the importance of the river to the city of Toronto. Students were surprised to hear that the river, to which Chinook salmon have now returned, was once so polluted that it caught fire – not once, but twice! And many students commented that they did not know that such a “natural place” existed in downtown Toronto.

A special thank you to Brandon’s History classes for taking the lead on being our “data recording experts.”

Check out more photos from this event on our Facebook page!

Math Students Apply their Skills!

The YMCA Academy’s Grade 11 College Math class took to the park to apply their skills to real world problems. After studying trigonometry in class and using technology to verify its laws, students were ready to see its applications firsthand.

Trigonometry has been used through the ages to solve problems in fields such as astronomy, land-surveying, navigation, architecture and more! In our class the students had to find the height of a lamp post, using a device called a clinometer which measures the angle of elevation, and determine the width of a pond that we created with chalk. Students worked together to take required measurements, determine which trigonometric formula to use and solve the problem.

Chemistry students observe reactions

Grade 12 YMCA Academy Chemistry students observe a reaction and record analysis.

Atoms are all around us. They make up everything we know. Having a fundamental understanding of their properties and characteristics grants us the ability to analyse pretty much any substance and discern its chemical and atomic makeup. There are several ways of figuring out the chemical makeup of substances. In the matter and qualitative analysis unit of grade 12 chemistry, we look at some of the techniques chemists use to analyse matter. Specifically, we look at the use of mass spectrometers, flame tests, emission/absorption spectra, and lastly precipitation reactions.

In order to apply their knowledge and understanding of qualitative analysis, the grade 12 chemistry class was tasked with running a series of precipitation reactions in order to figure out the identity of an unknown chemical substance. Using their knowledge of precipitation reactions, solubility rules and net ionic equations, they observed a series of reactions between known substances and a single unknown sample. Using all of the aforementioned tools along with their recorded observations, they determined the identity of the unknown substance and reported their methods, observations, and conclusions in a formal lab report.

Exploring ancient stories of the night sky

Visitor to the YMCA Academy Astronomy class shares stories about constellations in the night sky.

Astronomy is one of the oldest natural sciences. As long as humans have been able to look up at the sky, we have done so, wondering what our place is in the universe, where we came from, and how the universe itself came to be. Many (if not all) ancient civilizations have creation stories of how the universe came to be, and of constellations and celestial objects. As we started our new unit of Earth and Space exploration, we had the pleasure of having master orator Jim Adams share Aboriginal stories about celestial objects, constellations, and the universe as a whole.

We first heard a story about Sky Woman, which connected the Earth and the sky. Next, we heard about Atima and Atchaksuk, the dog and light/star respectively. Lastly, we heard three stories about constellations. The first story was one about a wolf which related to the little dipper. The second story was about Mista Muskwa (the big bear) which is commonly known as Ursa Major which has the Big Dipper as part of it. The last story was about the Pleiades constellation. By the end of the class, students were still thirsty for more stories. We may have to call in Jim again in order to appease the students’ desire to hear more Aboriginal stories.

Chemistry students explore properties of compounds

The atom is the basic unit of matter. All the elements in the universe are made up of atoms, each possessing its own set of physical and chemical properties. The grade 9 chemistry unit is all about exploring matter. Throughout the unit, students are introduced to the atom and the characteristics of its subatomic particles, the periodic table, and most importantly, the information the periodic table holds about the physical and chemical properties of elements.

The grade 9 science class set out to experiment and observe the physical and chemical properties of a set of four chemical compounds in order to determine which of them, if any, are part of the same family. Students ran a series of chemical reactions and recorded their observations in order to determine the answer and to justify it with evidence.

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