Students at St. Mary Catholic School in Beaverlodge got the chance to wet their engineering palate in a cardboard boat race experiment.
The young scientists were given just two sheets of cardboard, one roll of duct tape, and eight feet of polyurethane to help their boats float.
Beaverlodge teacher Melanie Alde says she organized the event to expand on the STEM-focused curriculum for Grade 8 students. She says the opportunity to get hands-on is valuable for students so they can visually experience Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math away from the textbook.
“Our professional development this year is based on STEM activities, and we’ve been asked to really incorporate it into our lessons,” she says. “The Grade 8 curriculum has buoyancy outcomes in it so I was trying to relate something in real life and exciting they could do.”
“It’s very valuable and I think they learned a lot and if they could do it again they would do things differently and that’s the whole idea behind engineering.”
Alde adds that the opportunity for students to get away from the classroom to experience real-life applications is important because it allows students to learn, and have fun at the same time.
“Just seeing their faces when they’re coming down when they first get in the boat seeing if its going to float or not, and to their surprise it did,” she laughs. “The excitement trying to row them, they raced them, and they were just jumping up and down on the edge of the pool and super excited.”
In addition to STEM, Alde says students were required to incorporate Social Studies into their experiments, allowing students to apply art theory to their designs as well.
“In Social Studies, they have this history piece with Marco Polo’s adventures, so they had to incorporate Marco Polo’s events trying to sail across the ocean.”
Alde says the only problem with the event was that students from other grade levels were jealous they couldn’t participate in their own poolside experiments.
“I had grade nines asking me why didn’t we get to do this and grade sevens asking me- do we get to do this next year?”
According to Alde, the young minds at St. Mary’s are “excited to carry on the tradition,” and she says there are already plans to continue the event next year.