Monday, 12 October 2015

Pinhey Sand Dunes - Visit Two

We returned to the Pinhey Sand Dunes to participate in restoration of the dunes. Lots of help is needed to remove debris and organic matter from the sand. We did lots of sifting!

Caribou Math Contest Prep - Tangrams

This year, all students in grades 3 and up will be participating in the six Caribou Math Contests. Every Caribou Contest has an interactive math game as one of the questions. This year there are some new games that have been added, one of which is Tangrams. 

A few weeks ago, all the students in STEM class tried using Tangrams in case it appears on an upcoming contest. 

Rube Goldberg Machines

For several weeks now, students have been testing ideas for Rube Golberg Machines. Grades 1 - 4 are working on machines that will drop a candy into a basket. Students in grade 5 and up will have machines that smash a pumpkin. 

Here is some early experimenting:

After testing out ideas, each team made a formal plan of what their machine will look like - or at least outlining all the steps. Here are some pictures of implementing the plans:

Pinhey Sand Dunes - First Visit

On Friday September 11, 2015, all students from JK - grade 8 attended an amazing day of learning and activist at the Pinhey Sand Dunes. Scientists and volunteers from Biodiversity Conservancy International taught us why it is important to save the sand dune habitat (it is the only place in the world that some insects, like the Ghost Tiger Beetle, can live), and all about the flora and fauna that live on the dunes. Our time for dune restoration was shorter than we had hoped so we made arrangements to come back another day. 

Evidence of Ant Lion activity:

Catching an Ant Lion:

More insects on the dunes:

Exploring the dunes:

Dune restoration:

We also got to learn about reptiles, although none of these species live on the dunes. 

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Pinhey Sand Dunes

On Friday Setptember 11, 2015, all AcadeCap students from JK to grade 8 went to the Pinhey Sand Dunes to learn about this unique habitat restoration project right here within the City of Ottawa. We saw ant lions, tiger beetles, grasshoppers, sand wasps and crickets. A wonderful day was had by all!

Thank you very much to Joanne, Henri, Andrew and Dr. Dang and Biodiversity Conservancy International for sharing their knowledge and making our trip possible. We hope to visit the dunes again later this year.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Grade 3: February 11, Caribou Contest

On February 11, students wrote the Caribou Math Contest. Although this is a split 2-3 class, everyone wrote the contest for grades 3-4. Students can use their assigned access code to sign in to the Caribou web page to check their results. (If the access code got lost, results will be available in class.)

This was the first time we had participated in this contest, and it was a learning experience for all. There are two more Caribou contests this school year. Every week from now on, we will take some class time to practice for future contests.

Grade 6: February 11 Caribou Contest

On February 11, students wrote the Caribou Math Contest for Grades 5-6. Students can use their assigned access code to sign in to the Caribou web page to check their results. (If the access code got lost, results will be available in class.)

This was the first time we had participated in this contest, and it was a learning experience for all. There are two more Caribou contests this school year, and we will take time each class to practise for the upcoming contests.

Grade 6: February 4, A Simple Touch or Avoid Game

This week, as a class, we worked through the creation of a simple Touch or Avoid game - the mouse had to get to the cake without being hit by the bats (or whatever other characters were chosen!). Students were introduced to some of the advanced control blocks in Scratch ("if touching?" block), and used the built in timer feature.

At the end of class, we had just enough time to see a MaKey MaKey in action. This neat little piece of technology allowed us to use a potato, banana and an apple to control a Scratch project I had provided that featured singing fruits and vegetables.

Grade 3: Fingerspelling ScratchJr Projects

As the "Sounds of Silence" unit of inquiry was wrapping up, students were asked if they new any American Sign Language. Some remembered using sign language as babies, and we practised a few simple signs. Everyone then practised the finger spelling alphabet.

Using the ScratchJr feature of including photos in characters, students then created projects that featured photos letters of their name, or another favourite phrase, formed in finger spelling. Great work!

February 9 Grade 1: Basketball

As students have started a new Unit of Inquiry "Play and Learn" we talked about the inventor of basketball, Dr. James Naismith, and about the first basketball game. We even learned that when Mme Nora was a girl, one of her high school teachers was Dr. Naismith's grandson!

Students then learned about concurrency in computer programming and made a ScratchJr project that made the cat dribble the ball to the basket, which required to separate scripts to run simultaneously.

February 2, Grade 1: ScratchJr Dance

Today students created SratchJr projects in which two characters danced. We used two new blocks: "Start when bumped" and "Repeat forever". Excellent work all round!

Monday, 2 February 2015

Grade 1: ScratchJr Photo Sprites

Last class, the grade 1 students learned how to create a new Sprite in ScrachJr that included a photo. Every student then applied this new skill to create a Sprite that was a photo of their model animal made for their Habitats Unit of Inquiry. Excellent work all round!

Grade 3: Converstaions in Scratch

Last week, the grade 3 class made ScratchJr programs in which two (or more!) characters had conversations, where control was done using the "hi" and "wait" blocks. This week, students applied the same concepts in Scratch, using the "say XXX for X sec" and the "wait" block. Scratch allows the programmer more control over these types of conversations because the exact length of time the dialogue is displayed is specified (using the "say XXX for X sec" block).

Overall students created some excellent dialogues! Well done!

Grade 4: Final Computer Science Lesson

In our final lesson, students reviewed all of the Scratch programs they had written and chose the one they are most proud of to post on their e-portfolios. We then had a demo of a "Fruit Band" Scratch program, which uses a MaKey MaKey to allow us to use real bananas, apples and potatoes to control our program!

Monday, 26 January 2015

Grade 6: First Computer Science Lesson

In our first class, students will share their past computer programming experience, and we will discuss possible goals and projects for the term.

To introduce coding, students will start Course 2 at

The login screen for Course 2 can be found at:

Students with extensive computer programming experience may start directly on Course 3, which can be found at:

Installing Scratch 2.0 Offline

Students in the Grade 5/6 class are required to install the Scratch 2.0 Offline editor on their computers. For step-by-step instructions, please see

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Grade 4: January Lessons

In January, Grade 4 students started off by creating their very own Maze game in Scratch. The logic and control for this game is simple once you know it, but getting their was sometimes challenging! Also, unexpected tricks, like not having a Sprite centred in the design space created some confusing bugs.

Next, students practised using the "broadcast" and "when I receive" blocks in Scratch to tell a simple story using conversation between two (or usually more!) characters.

Then, students started work on a Choose Your Own Adventure story, where the reader was asked to provide input (from they keyboard, while the program is running) to decide how the story will end.

Grade 3: January Lessons

In January, we started using Scratch 2.0, off-line to do coding challenges. Students have starter Scratch programs that need to be modified to changed in specified ways. Example challenges include these Starter projects from the Scratch Help page:
  • Paint with Gobo
  • Starfish Choir
  • Wizard Spells
  • Five Random Facts About Me
Students also used ScratchJr on the iPads to learn how to make two characters have a conversation using the "talk" and "wait" blocks. First students extended these projects on the iPads, then applied the same concepts within Scratch 2.0.

Grade 1: January Lessons

In January, we were all very excited to start using ScratchJr on the iPads. Students are working on programs that:
  • make a car drive along a road
  • have three animals, travelling at different speeds, race across a scene
  • show friends having fun at at dance party.
Students have been very engaged in these activities and have had great success!

Grade 1: December Lessons

In December, the Grade 1 students explored computer science concepts using hands on classroom activities and the Kodable Class app on the iPads. We practised following conditional statements as done in Kodable by walking on coloured squares in the classroom. We learned about the the very first computer "bug" (there was once real moth stuck in a computer that made it not work!), and tried out the Bugs Below Kodable levels. Some students even started to the Function Junction Kodable levels!

In an activity relating to the Unit of Inquiry about Air, students learned how to find the e-mail app on the iPads, open a message and follow a link to see images of air pollution in Beijing.

Grade 3: December Lessons

In December, the Grade 3 class was very busy getting ready for the school Science Fair. With a partner, students researched, designed and then created a simple water filter using mostly organic or household materials. We then tested each filter to see how well it removed dirt, vinegar, oil and soap, and compared our results to a simple filter made only of cloth and dirt. Students created posters to display their work, and presented to the Science Fair judges.

At the end of December, students got a taste of programming with Scratch, with some introductory challenges.

Grade 4: December Lessons

In December, students took on a longer term project and used Scratch to create an interactive quiz game. First, questions relating to their current Unit of Inquiry, Evolving Earth, were written. Then, students implemented their quizzes within Scratch. The final programs were on display at our annual Holiday Extravaganza concert for parents and other students to view.