With a push from Tyrell McEwen

Students launch junk contraptions

Students raced contraptions built from junk at the Houston Secondary School last week, as part of a multi-disciplinary project.

Students raced contraptions built from junk at the Houston Secondary School last week.

The project was about developing the five core competencies defined by the Ministry of Education, including (1) social responsibility, (2) personal responsibility, (3) creativity and innovation, (4) critical thinking and (5) communication.

Groups of students grades eight and nine picked eight items from the school junk pile, including wheels, boards, chairs and skis.

Then teams built a contraption to roll across the floor. Each student in the group had a different job, such as trading or building or picking the items from the junk pile.

Teams could buy nuts and bolts and three other tools, and they could purchase expert advice from volunteers Doug Kenzle, Lee Newstad, Bob Niven or Kevin Alcock. These men took time off work to help students.

“They’re handy guys,” said Teacher Ted Beck when asked why these men were asked to volunteer.

“They do maintenance and build things and they’re used to using their hands and working with objects.”

Students built their contraptions in two hour blocks Tuesday to Thursday, and student Lacey Giesbrecht said it was “pretty interesting.”

“There’s lots of time to talk to different people and socialize. It’s really different to see all the things people are coming up with,” she said.

Student Sarah Malkinson agrees.

“It’s different trying to work as a team and seeing what you can get done in two or three days, interesting working with people you haven’t worked with much before,” she said.

On Friday, junkyard races were on.

Students crowded the foyer, shouting and cheering as junk-contraptions were launched across the room. The farthest rolling contraption won.

The multidisciplinary junkyard project required students to do problem solving (math), write a lab report (science), and write a newspaper article (language arts).

Overall, Teacher Kari Niven says the project was “a huge success.”

“Students were creative and innovative, they were engaged in the activity and there was great communication between group members. There was a lot of energy and the involvement of community members as our experts was amazing and much appreciated,” she said.

Beck says they were “thrilled with how the students engaged in Junkyard Wars.”

“We feel that the students developed in the core competencies and had fun doing it,” he said.

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