West Kildonan Science: Year in Review

This year was full of opportunities for students to engage in experimentation and discovery while learning about science at West K. Below are a few examples of the projects, labs, and experiments that students took part in this year.

In Mr. Obendoerfer’s class, grade 9 student’s engaged in colour chromatography to solve which colours were mixed into each solution. Chromatography is a useful laboratory technique designed to separate mixtures.

In Ms. Pooley’s grade 12 biology class, students learned about various animal systems through dissection.

In Ms. Shapiro’s chemistry class students preformed a titration lab. A titration is a laboratory method of quantitative chemical analysis. Sometimes, the mixtures change colour when the reaction reaches neutralization.

In Ms. Figueroa’s grade 11 chemistry class, students attended the University of Winnipeg to participate in a tour and perform an experiment in the universities’ science lab.

In Mr. Obendoerfer’s grade 11 physics class students experimented with electromagnetism. Students recreated historical experiments, such as Oersted’s experiment which demonstrated how a current carrying wire generates a magnetic field, and Faraday’s homopolar motor. Students also experimented creating motors using the principles of electromagnetism.

Faraday’s homopolar motor
Electric Motor

In Mrs. Downing’s Grade 10 Science class, students applied their understanding of Physics in Motion by designing, building and launching homemade rockets during the distance learning period. Students earned badges based on various criteria: The Chris Hadfield badge for creative design, the David Suzuki badge for reusable rocket and the Sabrina Gonzalez badge for highest altitude rocket.

Baking soda and vinegar rocket

In Mr. Obendoerfer’s grade 9 science class, students built rockets designed to withstand high speed and safely land on the ground. This one landed safely in a neighbour’s yard 300 ft from the school.

Bottle Rocket Challenge

In Ms. Pooley’s class students brought animals from West K’s extensive collection to other schools and presented them to students.

In Mr. Obendoerfer’s grade 9 science class, students experimented with building capacitors using simple materials as a part of our study of static electricity. Students also built electrochemical cells as part of our study of current electricity.

Electrochemical Cell

Mrs. Kammerlock’s astronomy class visited the Physics and Astronomy Department at the University of Manitoba earlier this year. While at the U of M, we completed three labs with the help of three astrophysicist professors – Dr Ruth Cameron, Dr Jayanne English, and Danielle Pahaud.

With Dr Cameron we completed an e/m lab where students measured the charge to mass ratio of electrons, by using electricity and charge to accelerate electrons and a magnetic field to direct them.

“ I learned that our earth’s magnetic field doesn’t allow us to have a right calculation which creates a ‘difference’ percentage.” – Jayson

“Seeing the green ring of electrons was super cool because you can’t see electrons and very interesting to look at the electron vacuum.”  – Brandon

“My favourite activity was the first thing we did (e/m lab) because I’ve never done something like that and I thought it was pretty cool.” – Bryn

Dr Jayanne English shared about her experience working for NASA where studied galaxies and created optical images from data collected from the Hubble Space Telescope. She showed the students how to create optical images from images taken from a telescope.  Images are taken by blocking various wavelengths of light (what we see is not necessarily what is actually there as we can not see all wavelengths of light) to obtain the images the images obtained are layered and colour added to the images. Students worked with images from the Veil Nebula.

“I’d say the favourite part of the day was using GIMP to create our own astronomical images.” –Quentin

“I think that one of the best parts of the day was Astronomical Imaging because it was fun working with the different colours and overlays of the colours as well as learning how to use the program.” – Atavia

“I think the best activity we did today was making our very own customized nebulas. It was really cool to experiment with the different colours and curves when customizing our images. “ – Trenton

Danielle Pahuad taught students about her work with exoplanets and how exoplanets are discovered as well as our search for habitable planets in other solar systems. Students used a photometer during a lab to find exoplanets. 

“I liked the third experiment because of the light sensor and that’s what astronomers use! I found it really cool.” – Mia

“The last activity was cool because she taught us how to determine if an object in transit was a planet or a random rock by using light from a star. This method allows us the determine if a planet is orbiting a star.” – Jayson

“Another thing I found interesting was how long we have to observe exoplanets for. Data will be constantly changing so its awesome to discover new things each year.” – Quentin

“The professor went over stuff we are working on in class now which really reinforced the topic.”– Jessica

“”I learned how planets are discovered and that planets have to orbit around a star at least three times to know if it is a planet and that it also takes a long time to make a discovery.” – Grace

The science department at West K is looking forward to having students back in our classrooms and labs next year so we can continue to engage students in the sciences!