Projects range from comedy to rocketry to airplanesPosted Mar 7, 2013 By John Curry
EMC news - It was an evening of celebration. But it was also an evening of information as five grade eight students at the Ottawa Waldorf School in Stittsville last Thursday, Feb. 28 made presentations on the projects which they themselves had selected and pursued, advised by an adult mentor.
And what a diversity of projects and resulting information - positive reinforcement in animal training, creating an original comedy routine, model rocketry, a non-kill animal rescue shelter, and how airplanes fly.
It all began last fall when each student selected a topic for his or her project. The scope of each project provided a challenge to the student, being larger in scope that anything tried before in their education and requiring a lot of extracurricular work. In addition to picking a topic, the student had to recruit a mentor - someone who had knowledge about the topic and could offer advice and guidance. This had to be a non-relative.
The student, though, had to do all of the work regarding the project, keeping a journal which detailed progress made and challenges encountered.
It all culminated in the project presentations which took place in the assembly room at the Ottawa Waldorf School, filled with interested parents and siblings. The students not only had to prepare a speech about the project but also had to make a display outlining the project - much like a science fair display.
Leah Cosman told about her efforts to train the five year old, previously untrained parrot named Cooper by using positive reinforcement methods. She told about using a clicker to control the bird's behaviour and also training the parrot to pull a string. This new skill by Cooper was used to great effect at the end of Leah's presentation when she enticed Cooper to flip open a prop which read: "We deserve an 'A'".
This innovative and humourous ending led nicely into the second presentation by Theo Van der Burgt who not only told about comedy down through the years but also delivered his own stand-up comedy routine.
Theo had Brian Stollery, a Calgary-based comedian, as his mentor, communicating with him by skype.
Theo told about comedy from the ancient Greek times through the Roman Empire to the court jesters of the Middle Ages to the vaudeville of post-Civil War times to the stand-up comedy of today. He told about the different styles of comedy such as verbal and observational.
He developed his own stand-up comedy routine which he delivered to round out his presentation.
Sunao Gomi chose model rocketry for his project. With the help of his mentor, he learned how to build and assemble a model rocket and, indeed, how to launch it. He did this three times on a day in January. His project allowed him to discover a new hobby.
Alyson Terry focused her project on the local non-kill animal shelter operated by the Arnprior and District Humane Society. She told how she had so much fun playing with the cats being sheltered there when she was volunteering there as part of her project.
She told how this animal shelter spent over $50,000 just on veterinary bills alone in 2012.
Alyson said that working at this shelter taught her about the diversity that exists in the personality of cats.
She advised everyone that if they are looking for a cat or a dog, they should first look to an animal shelter before turning to a breeder because by adopting an animal from a shelter, you are really helping an animal in need.
Scott McGeachy's presentation told about how airplanes fly, namely through the lift created by their wings along with thrust created by a propeller or jet engine.
He demonstrated different wing designs and their lift capability through the use of a small wind tunnel which he and his mentor had built and developed. He deserves full marks for patience and persistence as he cut 1,000 straws into smaller pieces (4,000 pieces in all) to create a filter to smooth out the air in the wind tunnel. He admitted that it took hours to do this.
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