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Brock PS One of Four Winners in National STEM Competition

Brock PS One of Four Winners in National STEM Competition

Wednesday, July 05, 2017
Categories: Great Things, Happenings @ TDSB, School Web Stories

Brock PS is one of just four schools across Canada named as a winner of the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Challenge. The challenge encouraged students to explore careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and demonstrate how STEM can be used to improve their school and local community. Brock students were recognized for the work they did to investigate ways to utilize the school’s rooftop garden so that plants can grow year round. 

Grade 8 students had been exploring STEM throughout the year in a variety of projects that provided important building blocks for the project focussing on the rooftop garden, including designing and building their own hydraulic and pneumatic systems, and investigating how they work and their importance in our everyday lives. They knew that very few plants were able to grow and survive in the school’s garden during the cold winter months. The growing season for the plants in the garden is typically about six months (May to November) and students sought to find a way to use the rooftop garden in the winter months as well. Students brainstormed ideas to achieve this and, using their individual strengths, each took a role in researching, designing, and building prototypes. 

Collaboratively they decided to create an irrigation system for the months of heavy snow and rainfall. They built a model greenhouse which could provide light and heat for plants and illustrated how the use of solar panels would also generate power to a water system that could harness rain and snow to support and water the garden during the winter months. The greenhouse model was also engineered so that it would include a removable roof to allow pollinators into the greenhouse during the spring and summer months. 

Students also assessed the impacts this new system would have on their community. They highlighted that using their system in the school garden all year round would promote healthy living and encourage members in our neighborhood to grow their own food using a similar system in their own homes and in local parks such as Dufferin Grove Park.

“Our students demonstrated a curiosity about the world around them and took necessary steps to find solutions to a problem that’s important to them,” said Teacher Lillian Papel. “They showed dedication, teamwork skills, innovative thinking, and took risks. Their strong desire and interest to question, learn and solve allowed them to bring their ideas to life.” 

Brock PS was initially selected as one of 150 regional finalists in phase one of the contest earlier this year. Other TDSB schools selected as regional finalists for the Eastern Canada region covering Ontario and Quebec included Alexander Muir/Gladstone PS, Duke of Connaught PS, Elmbank JMA, Georges Vanier SS, John Polanyi CI, McMurrich PS, and R J Lang EMS. Regional finalists won a Technology Video Kit package to create a video illustrating their projects.

As the winner of the Eastern Canada region, Brock PS will receive $20,000 in Samsung technology. Students were thrilled to learn the news that their project was selected as one of four winners across Canada. “I was shocked and extremely happy,” said Kelly H, who was one of the lead students in the Brock project. “I think this opportunity gave us all a broader view on STEM because people often think of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math as individual subjects and they think specifically to one job but really they are integrated and involved in a lot of careers. Now that we see the larger picture, we are able to consider a variety/range of jobs and careers for the future.”

Though he will be moving on to grade 9 next year, Cory T was excited about how the recognition would impact his school. “We are happy that we are able to help the students next year [by] providing them new technology to enhance their learning,” he said.

Fellow grade 8 student Michele Z said that she enjoyed working collaboratively and leveraging the various different skills that individual students each brought to the project. “It gave us a good opportunity to develop our communication skills,” she said. “Our STEM program…covered a range of subjects and we learned how to apply what we learned in class in our daily lives. If we further our knowledge in STEM we can build a better tomorrow!”




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