Thomson is a STEM Lead School of the TDSB. Continued implementation of STEM-focused learning in Science and other subjects at Thomson is meeting the goal of TDSB's Years of Action Plan. Science teachers are among leaders of Thomson's STEM Committee whose goal is creating a school-wide culture of STEM-focused learning in variety of subject areas.
STEM-Focused Goals of the Science Department for Students:
Introduction and mastery of use of technologies and applied technologies (e.g. Vernier probeware and robotics - LEGO Mindstorms, Arduino, FIRST Robotics Competition) to help develop skills of creativity and critical thinking.
More integration of Problem-Based Learning and Challenges to help develop skills of applying science principles to real-world scenarios.
More connections between Science and other subjects to nurture more awareness of relevance of learning science.
More opportunities to experience real-world scientific investigations and mentorship in science-based work environments.
STEM Education has been gained importance in schools across Canada, the United States, and other international countries.
Learning and practicing skills of STEM is important for all students - not only for students choosing to become scientists. Learning and practicing skills of STEM throughout schooling will best prepare students for success in any workplace and the challenges of life as a Canadian citizen.
Thomson Science Classes Provide Opportunities for Creativity, Exploring, and Risk-Taking
Engineering is using science to invent, design, build, and improve something or a process. Thus, successful engineering requires opportunities for creativity.
Therefore, creativity, as a skill of STEM, is just as important as collaboration, communication, and critical thinking.
Engineered products are the results of creativity, exploring, and risk-taking. To ensure that students understand this, teachers provide opportunities to express creativity and encourage risk-taking in safe, non-threatening classroom environments.
At Thomson, fostering the attitude of taking risks fearlessly and safely in problem-solving is valued as highly as actually achieving the task.Students, through exploration and learning by trial-and-error, are better prepared and gain confidence to face new challenges in science classes and beyond.
STEM Collaboration with Departments
On March 26, 2015, all Grade 9 students, in small groups, completed a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) Challenge. Given the real-world scenario of needing to drop supplies to groups of people in need, small groups of students practiced the STEAM-approach to solving this problem - identifying, designing, building, testing, and re-examining.
Awards were presented to teams exemplifing Best Teamwork, Most Innovative Device, Understanding of Design Process (a.k.a. Future Engineering Award), Team Spirit, and Best Design of Team Crest.
Congratulations to all who participated!
STEM Collaboration with Feeder Schools
The Science Department at Thomson has been working together with Science Departments of feeder schools to help students, through their schooling, develop and master their skills of STEM - Science, Technology, Education, and Math.
Grade 7 Hovercraft Challenge
with Charles Gordon Senior P. S.
On June 25, 2014, one hundred Grade 7 students from Charles Gordon Senior Public School collaborated with Science students from Thomson in small groups to design, construct, and test their own hovercrafts:
The end result of the hovercraft had to meet the following criteria:
The base of each hovercraft can be uniquely designed but had a total surface area no larger than one square metre.
The hovercraft had to glide smoothly across the floor.
The objective of the day was providing the Grade 7 students opportunities to apply their skills of STEM on a project reflecting the learning of concepts in the Grade 7 Science and Math Curriculums:
Leadership Opportunities in Science
This event provided Thomson's science students the opportunity to practice and apply their leadership skills as coaches in small group settings. Before the day of the event, coaches assumed roles of designers, calculators, and builders to experience the tasks of the Grade 7 student engineers. The coaches, as mentors to younger students, also received training on effective communication skills to bring out the best in others.
STEM Skills at Work
In small groups, Grade 7 Engineers and Thomson Coaches were assigned various roles:
In addition to the tasks assigned, students and coaches were encouraged to offer help to other team members. The gymnasium was a key location because it allowed different groups to view each other's processes and products, thus encouraging the sharing of different ideas from diverse groups.
Grade 7 engineers, completing their assigned tasks under set time frame, were required to inform others on their progress in order for the entire group to complete the task under the set time frame allowed.
Prior to meeting as a team, student engineers were intentionally not shown any existing models of hovercrafts designed or constructed by the coaches. This ensured that Grade 7 students utilize purposefully their creativity in the following ways:
Appearance of their hovercraft unique and reflective of the team
Base of hovercraft measured a total surface area of one metre square
The engineers were encouraged to be as creativeas possible in their design of their hovercraft. Creativity is a STEM skill that results in innovations and inventions that solve new problems.
Student engineers had several decisions to make, critical to the success of the hovercraft:
Design of the styrofoam base to hold a person while the hovercraft glides smoothly
Location of hole in the styrofoam base to cut and place the hole stencil for the leaf blower
Location and number of holes in the vapour barrier sheet to allow hovercraft to lift an individual
Sequencial order of assembling parts of the hovercraft
Placement and application of duct tape to secure the parts of the hovercraft during the test
Students tested their hovercraft and made adjustments to their product. Re-examining the process for improving the usefulness of the product is a key concept in engineering that was applied.
Showcase of Hovercrafts
Congratulations and Thank You Thomson Science Coaches!
Congratulations Grade 7 Engineers, We Hope that You Had Fun!
STEM Activity on Grade 8 Day
On November 6, 2013, prospective Grade 8 students from Charles Gordon Sr. P. S., Edgewood P. S., St. Andrews P. S., Robert Service Sr. P. S., John McCrae P. S., Knob Hill P. S., and J. S. Woodsworth Sr. P. S. were challenged with a STEM-based task, showcasing hands-on learning at Thomson.
The task was building the longest nose, not touching the floor and attached to a student sitting on a chair, made of only newspaper and tape.
The task allowed students to experience challenges of finding solutions to problems, working with existing parameters, similarly to experiences of engineers needing to build bridges over given environments for instance.