Youth Exchange Silent Auction

Items on Sale during Silent Auction for the Youth Exchange Canada

Last week, with the help of parents, YMCA Health and Fitness staff, and student volunteers, the YMCA Academy held a silent auction to fundraise for the Canada Youth Exchange program. This year the tables were overflowing with generously donated items from family, friends and local businesses. From handmade scarves, pottery and artwork to concert and theatre tickets to a signed Raptors jersey and Toronto Maple Leafs tickets, there was something for everyone! With this one day auction we exceeded our fundraising goal and brought in over $2300 for this year’s exchange!

The Canada Youth Exchange program is a Government of Canada initiative that helps Canadian youth connect with one another, experience the diversity of Canada’s communities, languages and cultures, and get involved in the future of the country. We are fortunate to have been twinned with a group from Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, who we will be hosting at the end of April. Thanks to all of our fundraising efforts and support from the community we are now able to go ahead with our wish list of activities and ensure that our guests have a truly amazing Toronto experience!

Thanks again to all those involved in the silent auction and stay tuned to find out exactly how the money is spent when we recap the exchange experience.

Special Ballet Creole performance at the YMCA Academy!

The Toronto  based dance company Ballet Creole brought their performance of Saraka to the YMCA Academy. The performance of drum and dance was a celebration of African and Carribean music, song, and dance in a colourful and vivid show that we will not soon forget.  Some students even got in on the act and took their hand at drumming.  The show was brought to us through a generous donation from an Academy family. Thank you to Ballet Creole for this incredible performance and for sharing your artistry with us.

A Look at Families of Elements

On the 28th of November 2016, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) approved the name and symbols for the four new elements that had been previously discovered during the past few preceding years: nihonium (Nh), moscovium (Mc), tennessine (Ts), and oganesson (Og), respectively for element 113, 115, 117, and 118. The periodic table of element was first organized into its modern form by the Russian chemist Dimitri Mendeleev in 1863.

Mendeleev noticed that 56 known elements of his day displayed more than the simple pattern of increasing in atomic mass. He realized that groups of elements had similar physical and chemical properties that they shared with one another, despite having different atomic masses. He used his newly formed period table to correctly predict the properties of eight elements that had not yet been discovered!

Using their knowledge of the periodic table and understanding that elements in the same groups/families on the periodic table share similar physical and chemical properties, the grade 9 science class put their scientific investigation skills to observe four sets of chemical reactions to determine which solutions belonged to the same family on the periodic table.

Students reacted silver nitrate separately with potassium chloride, potassium iodide, potassium bromide and potassium sulfide. After reacting the solutions, student recorded their observations and applied their knowledge and understanding of the periodic table to figure out which of the potassium solutions (if any) were part of the same group/family.

Biochemical Compounds in Food Samples

There are four broad classes of macromolecules that can be found in living systems. Each type of macromolecule has a characteristic structure and function in living organisms. You can use your knowledge of the basic structure of each macromolecule to perform tests in the lab that detect the presence or absence of key functional groups or overall characteristics in various substances through the use of indicators.

Students were given a scenario in which they had to play the role of scientists at a Canadian Food and Drug Administration Center for Nutrient Analysis where they test various food items for protein, lipid and carbohydrate content. In the face of an impending zombie epidemic, they must use their knowledge and understanding of biochemical compounds to determine which food substances could be used to quell the zombie epidemic. To do this they must analyse a variety of foods to determine which has the highest levels of complex carbohydrates and proteins which have been found to kill the zombie’s brain cells.

Dungeons and Dragons Club

Video games may have become the norm for most high school students looking for the thrill of solving puzzles, navigating political intrigue, and combating evil monsters. At my school, however, we sit around a table with pencils, paper and dice. The classic fantasy strategy game, Dungeons and Dragons, has made a major come back at the YMCA Academy. Instead of being powered by a computer or gaming console, Dungeons and Dragons games unfold in the minds of a group of people through shared story telling. Rather than quietly staring a screen and clicking buttons on a controller, the YMCA Academy Dungeons and Dragons Club members cooperatively scour maps, lay out plans, brainstorm solutions, and tackle enemies all through the power of imagination.

This week the companions trekked across dangerous, forested wilderness on their way to gather some key information at an abandoned town a few days’ march to the north. The party is tracking their missing Dwarven employer who was captured by a band of goblins. Their investigation has taken them from a sleepy mining town, through damp caverns, through wild forests and to an abandoned ruin of a village where a dragon has made his lair.

The world of Dungeons and Dragons is only possible through the power of shared story telling. As the Dungeon Master, I set the scene by narrating the opening sequence of a story: I describe the scenery, the time of day, what local people or creatures are nearby, and I explain any activity that is taking place. Players then make decisions based on their character and what is taking place. The outcomes of those decisions are determined by the roll of dice. Then I describe the outcome based on the dice roll, and the cycle starts over again.

I can’t express enough the value of this game. Besides the literacy, numeracy, problem solving, divergent thinking, communication, conflict resolution, and geography skills that are practiced, the social benefits of the game cannot be ignored. Every Monday, a group of students, who range from boisterous to downright shy, join together as a close-knit team to overcome a series of new challenges. Players come out of their shells and take on newfound confidence in leadership roles, they learn to encourage and uplift one another, they learn to listen to one another, they learn to recognize the power of choice, they learn to laugh at mistakes (and bad dice rolls), and they learn celebrate one another’s victories.