Fort McMurray may soon be joining the record books thanks to a group of young, eager scientists. On October 18th close to 300 students at Dr. Clark School joined thousands across the country to take part in what is believed to be the largest practical science lesson in multiple locations in an effort to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records.
The giant science lesson was an initiative of the Government of Canada’s science department, which used the event as a kick-start to National Science week. Dr. Clark grade eight math and science teacher Raffi Kouyoumdjian saw the lesson as an opportunity to get students excited about science.
“I thought it was kind of a novel, cool way to review the scientific process with students. The next term we have leads up to our science fair so many of those students will be doing science fair projects. I figured that was a good lead in to get them thinking about the process and thinking about their science fair project,” he explained of his desire to get involved.
“It was a very large group, all students in grades three to eight were involved. There were lots of different levels there. I think generally the students had a good time, I could see lots of smiling faces, having fun with science, which was also one of the main reasons for the event. It was quite exciting. We had lots of volunteers, almost 20, it was exciting to be a part of.”
One such volunteer, Vicki, a soon to be teacher, echoed Kouyoumdjian’s description of excitement, but noted it was not just from the students. “Every single student and even the teachers and volunteers were completely engaged and I think especially for the younger students it was a good place for them to start learning about science experiments and exploration. They were all having a lot of fun.”
Added fellow volunteer Thomas Morris “I have an engineering background and it was great to see them having a lot of fun while following a scientific process and comparing results. It’s a varying learning method and I find a lot of kids benefit from having a hands on learning experience to be able to respond to the subject and apply the subjects they learning school in a fun way.”
The lesson itself focused on the gravity and atmosphere on the earth, moon and mars. Each student built three paper airplanes, which represented the various environments on each of the three planets. “The earth plane had long wings to simulate a great, thick atmosphere; the moon plane had no wings because there is no atmosphere on the moon and the mars one had very small wings because mars has an atmosphere but it’s 100th the size of the density on earth,” Kouyoumdjian explained.
“The students really got into it. For the younger students it was more fun, while learning the scientific process, the older students, the junior high students were definitely more intellectually involved in answering more deep discussion questions. Most students across the levels were actively engaged and participating.”
Kouyoumdjian believed trying to create a world record contributed to the student’s enjoyment and excitement. “I think the World Record aspect was a big component of why the kids bought into the lesson, it was something neat and something that they will remember.”
Added Morris, “they were so excited they nearly deafened us when the lesson was over.”
Kouyoumdjian, along with all those across the country who participated in the lesson, submitted the required information to the Government of Canada’s science department to prove they participated in the lesson. Over the next few weeks the government will be submitting the material for approval from the Guinness Book of World Records. For more information on the largest lesson and to track it’s world record progress visit the website at http://science.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=1B3F6F0C-1.