Today was a rather interesting day because I had the opportunity to visit St. John’s-Kilmarnock school, located just outside of Guelph. To be perfectly honest, I had no idea it existed until only recently.
The school is beautiful, featuring state-of-the-art technology (such as touch digital whiteboards, for example) in the classroom. It is also large enough (although without feeling large) to support students from junior and senior kindergarten all the way through to grade 12.
The purpose of today’s visit: judging entries in their 34th annual Science Fair. I have to say, I was overwhelmed with the enthusiasm of the students. They beamed with pride when I sat down to chat with them about their work. Better still, the work was far above what I had expected to see. And if that weren’t enough, the science fair was divided into 2 major sections – science, and math. Fantastic!
I was assigned to several projects, including studies of feline thyroid function, microwave radiation, Newtonian physics, sleep, fabric strength, vitamin C, and music. Beyond being able to answer some tough questions, the students demonstrated the ability to think scientifically – asking the right questions, and setting up experiments that would test their hypotheses. They also were able to consider sources of error in their studies, and thus identify potential pathways to account or eliminate those errors. I couldn’t help but smile when the students started explaining their work, especially in the cases where the work clearly ignited curiosity.
After I had finished judging my set of students, I opted to explore the rest of the projects including those that fell under the mathematics banner. I was stoked to see students studying arithmetic sequences, chaos theory, fractals, Zeno’s paradox, and probability (to name a few). Even more amazing to me; grade 4 students who had included the concept of variability (in the form of a standard deviation) in their study aimed at estimating the number of gum balls in a jar – a practical application of both geometry and probability theory. Excellent!
Congrats to all the entrants, and congrats to the teachers who have been guiding these students. I look forward to helping out next year.