The Power of Words

During the first week of Dynamics of Human Relationships, we spent a lot of time learning about self-esteem, self-concept, and how the two factor into healthy relationships. We took a closer look at how our self-esteem can play a role in what we post on our social media accounts, as well as how our self confidence impacts how we interpret what we see online. During these lessons, we had many open discussions in which students shared some factors that influence their self-perceptions. Students shared stories from the past and present, disclosing incidents of bullying, social trends, and online activity. One student shared of an incident dating back to grade 4 and detailed how she still carries the hurtful comments from almost a decade ago. In order to show the lasting impact of hurtful comments and negative self talk, we participated in a class activity.

We started the activity by each taking one crisp, clean, blank sheet of paper. We then took turns “bullying” and talking negatively to our paper, crumpling the paper with each hurtful comment. We heard comments such as “you will never find love”, “you are worthless”, “you are dirty” and “you are weak”. We stopped bullying our pieces of paper once we had them crumpled up into small balls. We then took it in turns to apologize to the piece of paper for what we had said and tried to flatten the paper back out with each apology. We ended up with creased, ripped, holey and damaged pieces of paper. Despite how much we apologized, we could not fully erase the damage that we had done.

The students seemed to connect with this activity and appreciate the visual aid of irreparable damage. Not only is this an important lesson for when we’re talking to and about others, but it’s also important to recognize that the effects of negative self-talk can be just as long lasting and influential to our self-esteem.

Food and Nutrition Cook Off

While we couldn’t cook at school, or share our culinary creations with each other during a potluck, the Food and Nutrition class made the best of our situation, and moved our meal preparations into the comfort of our own kitchens. Over the course of the 5 week octomester we had 4 “cookoffs”, in which the students practiced a variety of important meal preparation skills in the very environment that they should be applying those skills now and in the future. Each meal required that the students demonstrated specific knowledge or skills that they had learned and practiced during each unit. By cooking at home they were able to develop some comfort and familiarity with their own kitchens and in doing so make cooking for themselves and their families more accessible. Though I cannot be certain, as I was unable to taste test them myself, by all indications they made what appeared to be some super yummy creations.

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.