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!).

Vikings and Videogames

The Grade 12 Adventures in World History class traveled through time to take on the roles of Advisors, Seers, Seafarers, and Warlords to the Norse King, Harald Hadrata. Using the video game Civilization VI as an experiential medium, students helped expand the Norse trade networks, explore the western seas, settle new lands, and conquer Scotland and northern England. Through the game’s complex mechanics students learned about the Vikings as more than raiders, but also as traders, farmers, shipbuilders, poets, artisans, and clothmakers.

The ultimate goal of the game was exploring as far west as Vinland, and establishing the first European settlement in what would later become Newfoundland. Students dispelled myths about horned helmets, and learned of the notable contributions of key figures like Harald Finehair, Egil Skallagrimson, Eric the Red, and Harald Hadrata.

While videogames can sometimes be a dubious learning tool, Civilization VI includes detailed historical information about the buildings, units, scientific discoveries, and cultural developments relevant to the period of study. Through their roles as Advisors, Seers, Seafarers, and Warlords, each group had a set of goals to work towards regarding trade, religious development, military conquest, pillaging resources, and scientific advancement. Each turn gave groups a variety of options to choose from, with many opportunities for student groups to find cooperation, conflict, and compromise. In the end, the students successfully developed trade routes to Denmark and Sweden, conquered the Scottish city of Dun Breatann, raided the Northumbrian capital of Eoferwic by land, pillaged the coasts of Wessex and Frankia, explored Iceland and Greenland, and sent a Eric the Red to explore and settle Vinland. The victorious cheers of the Viking students echoed over the waves.

Academy of Anacondas

Is there an everyday challenge that you experience and think to yourself “AGH, I wish someone would create a…to fix this”? For the last few months the middle schoolers have entered a Dragons Den competition (we’ve renamed it the Academy of Anaconda’s). Their task has been to think about these everyday problems and create a service or product that solves the problem. Eventually these students will be pitching their business to a panel of the Academy’s finest business Anacondas. The students have gone through many steps along the way. One of the first steps that the students went through was thinking about what makes a good business and what makes a good pitch. As a class we analyzed various pitches and businesses presented on Dragon’s Den and we had guest lecturers come to speak with the class about the challenges and triumphs of developing a business.

These guest lecturers included a founder of a Kombucha company and an Art Production company based out of Toronto. Once we had a better understanding of what makes a good business plan and pitch, the students were off to the races. They figured out what their business was going to be, who their niche audience was, and created models of their product or plans of their service. Throughout the process students have given and received a lot of feedback about their business. They have supported one anothers projects as well as received feedback from experts in their respective fields. You can see their mini-pitch along with some of the feedback they received here. We look forward to continuing to fine tune these business plans, developing websites for their businesses and ultimately preparing for the big day where students pitch their ideas to a panel of Anaconda’s.

– Dayna and MJ

Virtual ROM Tour

This February, students in the Adventures in World History class united the realities of distance learning with the excitement of a trip to the Royal Ontario Museum. Students were introduced to a series of objects and specimens from around the world and across vast periods of time. From the time of dinosaurs, to Ancient Egypt, to New France, to the 19th Century Northwest Coast, to species at risk today, Academy students experienced the stories of some of the most popular objects in the Royal Ontario Museum’s collection of over 13,000,000 objects.

Our guide explained the significance of several objects from the collection, the history of their journey to the ROM’s collections, and the stories behind them. The object most closely connected to the lessons of the course was the Mummy of Djedmaatesankh. This wealthy, land owning woman lived during the New Kingdom period of Ancient Egypt. CAT scans of her remains show that she likely died of an infection in her jaw. The art that encases her includes inscriptions about her career as a chanter in the temple of Amun Ra. The clues that this object offers us about the role of women, the types of work, and the burial practices of Ancient Egypt are priceless.

What’s Cooking?

Cooking Club started off the new year by making simple, but satisfying smoothies. After all the holiday treats and big meals it was nice to make something packed full of healthy fruits and vegetables. As this was a fairly easy snack to prepare we had lots of time to catch up on our winter break activities and also discuss what recipes to make in the coming weeks. We have a long list of interesting ideas to choose from with some old favourites and new challenges.

Over the last few weeks we have made some really tasty meals. We created loaded nachos,
homemade pizzas, and stir-fries. Each student used their favourite ingredients to customize the meal for themselves and their families. These versatile recipes are great to meet the diverse tastes of our students and also allows them to use whatever they have on hand, which is a good skill and especially important during the pandemic.

We hope to be able to cook together in person once again, but for now our virtual Cooking Club gives us the opportunity to share our love of food with each other and socialize with our friends.