Battle Bots in STEAM

Students in the YMCA Academy middle school recently completed a mechanical system design project as part of their most recent unit in the school’s Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math (STEAM) program. During this project, students shared and extended each others’ ideas as they applied knowledge of simple machines to build complex mechanical systems. Along the way, they developed practical understanding of fluid properties that could be used to improve their designs through inquiry-based use of hydraulic and pneumatic systems. Instead of battle bots, students participating in online-only learning engineered their own mousetrap-powered cars, developing the same understanding and skills while completing these devices. In the end, each student engineered a unique machine, their own complex system designed for friendly competition.

Dumplings, Risotto, Eggs…you want it we made it!

Cooking Club has been great, still continuing during the pandemic. I have been going to cooking club for the last 5 years and I am still participating virtually, talking to my peers and learning cooking techniques with Katie every Wednesday online. I believe that this club is really important because we will need to know these skills for when we go to college, or university or at a job. It’s also nicely social as we connect with the same people and meet new ones. This year we have made muffins, dumplings, quesadillas, risotto, egg foods, cookies and three sister stew. It used to be vegetarian back when we went to school without masks or covid 19 protocols but now Katie has made an exception because it’s virtual. For the new students who are thinking about joining cooking club, it’s not too late to sign up for action packed recipes and excitement.

-Cole Warner

Stop Disasters Game

It’s no secret that natural disasters have a huge impact on people’s livelihoods and the surrounding environment. Although millions of people are affected every year, we can reduce the human, physical and financial cost of disasters by understanding the risks of applying the best methods of prevention and mitigation.

In our unit on natural disasters, students played a game that tasked them with managing the impacts of a natural disaster of their choice. They played realistic disaster scenarios and their role was to plan and construct a safer environment for their town in order to minimize the damage of the natural disaster.

Students needed to know how the natural disaster formed and the risks it posed in order to prepare for what was to come. They started out with a set budget and had to determine where to spend it. It’s not hard to spend money, but it is difficult choosing which areas to protect, where to place your defences and how to save as many lives as possible.

With multiple playthroughs, students gained a better understanding of the logistics and factors involved in preparing for such terrible events. They began to realize that they didn’t have an infinite amount of money, they had to carefully consider all options, and they often had to make very difficult decisions. Overall, it was an engaging experience that forced students to think about the consequences their actions carry and how the decisions they make directly involve the people they are trying to save.

Edo Period Japan: Political Intrigue Role Play

Welcome to Edo City, Japan during the 1580s. After centuries of civil war, the lands are united under the military control of the Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu. The Edo period is an age of high art, purity of tradition, strict cultural stratification, and rigid codes of behaviour. The Imperial court is a place of spies, plots, lies, and hidden dangers. This is the world that the Adventures in World History Class has become immersed in.

The role play game takes place during the historical setting of the Early Edo Period, with key figures from history ranging from Tokugawa Ieyasu, Hattori Honso, Takeda Shingen, Araki Murashige, and Ando Morinari. Even though the setting is historically accurate, the plot of the game, and some fantastical and magical elements are fictional. The students have taken on the roles of Samurai, Yamabushi Mystics, Doshin Law Enforcers, Matagi Hunters, and Ninja; making up a rag-tag team of investigators tasked with uncovering an assassination plot targeting the Emperor.

Throughout the role-play game students are confronted with challenging social situations, difficult power dynamics, complicated castles, beautiful landscapes, dangerous combat, and legendary creatures straight from Edo period literature.

Through conflicting goals, and situations requiring cooperation, the students use their imaginations to navigate this complicated world. Knowledge of Edo period castle features, courtly etiquette, period-specific legends, and cultural understandings from the period are key to the success of the team in uncovering who is behind the plot.

At-Home Science Projects

The grade 9 science class has been busy so far this octomester! In our first unit we learned about the steps of the scientific method and how we actually use these steps to conduct scientific experiments in our daily lives (i.e. Why isn’t my toaster working?). We practiced designing experiments, making sure that only one variable was changed so that it would be a fair test.

For our chemistry unit we learned about physical and chemical properties. We examined different foods in our kitchen, using our senses to describe them and completed density and viscosity tests. Students also conducted their own solubility experiments. When discussing chemical properties we explained reactivity with the classic vinegar and baking soda demo and tested the acidity of various household products using red cabbage as a pH indicator.

To bring these units together, students had to design an experiment to test products at home. They came up with a testable question, described the properties of the products involved, went through all of the steps of the scientific method and shared their results with the class. We had a wide range of questions, including “Which glue dries faster?”, “Which chip is the spiciest?”, and “Which car will go farther?”.

Students enjoyed completing their experiments at home, but are happy to now be back in school every other day where we can do more engaging activities together (but still 6ft apart!).