Engineering – Designing Bridges

This week the students participated in two Science AL!VE workshops. One workshop was titled Engineering Olympics and students used popsicle sticks, straws and masking tape to build their own bridges. The bridges were loaded up with weights until they collapsed and the students became so excited watching how much weight their bridge could hold.

I was also teaching the class about the Tacoma Narrows bridge which opened on July 1, 1940. During its construction, workers noticed the bridge deck began to move vertically during windy conditions, so they nicknamed it ‘Galloping Gertie’. On November 7, 1940 it was a windy day and this caused the bridge to sway violently and the concrete started to crack. Eventually the bridge collapsed due to aereoelastic flutter. There was no loss of human life. A single car was on the bridge and it belonged to Leonard Coatsworth. Inside of his car was his cocker spaniel ‘Tubby’. Professor Farquharson, who was involved in the design of the bridge, tried to rescue ‘Tubby’, but the dog  was so terrified that it bit the professor. In university engineering and physics classes the Tacoma Narrows bridge and its design is studied by students.

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Beautiful British Columbia

We are fortunate to live in a province with so much natural beauty. Sometimes when I’m out hiking and exploring, I’ll take some video with my drone. A drone is an amazing piece of technology, but it must be used responsibly. Can you see the fishing black bear in the video? What’s your favourite part of the video? Do you like the music? In the lower right hand corner is a button you can click to see the video full screen.

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Mason Bees

On Friday we had a visit from a retired beekeeper. He taught the class all about Mason bees which are hard working pollinators. Mason bees are gentle, solitary and they are not destructive insects. Six Mason bees can pollinate one fruit tree compared to 10,000 honey bees. Mason bees partition and seal their nesting chamber with mud. They forage in a limited range of about 100 metres. Only the female stings when she faces serious danger and her sting is similar to a mosquito bite. People of all ages are safe around these super pollinators.

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Cassini Probe Orbiting Saturn

Some people say that Saturn is the most beautiful planet in our solar system. The Cassini probe has been orbiting Saturn since 2004. On November 30, 2016 it started a series of orbits that will bring it closer to Saturn’s rings than ever before. Scientists hope to learn more about the rings and some of Saturn’s moons. Please feel free to leave a comment after watching the video.

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The Fox

In class we are listening to the story Pax by Sara Pennypacker. Below is a video of a fox hunting in the winter for mice in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, U.S.A. Please feel free to leave a comment.

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The Northern Lights

In the winter many people visit the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut to see the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis. Below is a video from the University of Oslo that does a very good job of explaining what causes this natural light display. In the southern hemisphere the lights are called the Aurora Australis.


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Harvesting Our Potatoes

On Thursday we harvested our five tubs of potato plants. We had planted the potatoes just before Spring Break and initially they grew next to the window in our classroom. Eventually they were moved to our school garden, in the courtyard area, where we patiently watered them every day. When we turned the tubs over and emptied the soil onto our drop sheet we found nearly 200 Warba potatoes of various sizes. Each student took home a paper bag with approximately ten potatoes. Hopefully, the students will eat these delicious vegetables.


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Potato Plants

The students in Division 11 are growing potatoes in the classroom.  We have five black tubs, which we will soon move outside to the courtyard area. At the end of June we hope to harvest our potatoes. If you have the chance, please come by our classroom and see our potato plants.


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