Guysborough Academy students win Tool Box Challenge

By Lois Ann Dort    

GUYSBOROUGH – The transition from classroom learning to real world application is often difficult to demonstrate but the Tool Box Challenge brings together aspects of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics into one hands on learning experience. Last week students from schools in the Strait Regional School Board met to compete in the challenge where they were required to work in teams with provided materials to build a machine that would propel a tennis ball at a target. Out of twelve participating schools, the Guysborough Academy team took home the top honour winning first prize in the competition. The Journal met with the winning Guysborough Academy Grade nine students-- Rebecca MacKeen, Hunter Poirier and Dylan Pinkham -- their teacher Kevin Chisholm and Principal Barbara Avery to discuss the event.

“All the materials were provided and we had to think together and make a design to see what would be the best to work with,” said Pinkham.

“We had two hours to come up with a plan. In that time we had to build it and we had two tries to test it,” said Poirier.

In their tool box was an elastic band, tooth picks, dowels, bolts, screws, paper clips and duct tape. “They were given baskets...It was almost like what is in your kitchen junk drawer,” said Tech Education teacher Kevin Chisholm.

When asked what prepared them to attempt the challenge all the students said their time in Tech Ed was beneficial.

The students also agreed that working together as a team was one of the key points they took away from the event. “Working together, I found out my partners different styles of working. The teamwork part was big. We had to work together to make our design and actually build it and it was, overall, really fun,” said Pinkham.

“For us it was pretty much, don’t give up, because after our two tests, we thought we’re done here. We adjusted it a lot. But the first shot of our challenge itself, we knocked down 90 per cent of the cans,” Poirier said.

Rebecca MacKeen said she learned a lot about team work while participating in the challenge. Stating that they had to work well together to get everything done.

MacKeen, Poirier and Pinkham were all excited when they learned they had won the challenge and they were also interested in seeing the other designs created by the competing teams.

“I was really shocked because of how it went from our original catapult that was falling apart...to the end and actually winning it,” said Poirier.

Chisholm spoke to the judging of the competition. “When they do the competition there are two categories that they are measured in; one is knocking down...the cans...and the other is the collaboration of their ideas and how they put them together and how they stick together for the ordeal. They were two and a half hours, flat out, doing this project...They stuck with it...That was probably the most impressive to me, the team work...and they scored top in that as well.”

Guysborough Academy Principal Barbara Avery said of the event, “I’m impressed...The task was to knock over the cans but the biggest piece was working together for two and half hours; and how well they collaborated and encouraged and supported each other, which is great to see.”

The teams were judged on team work, creativity, thumbnail sketches, a rough sketch with measurements, safety and number of cans knocked down. Participating school teams included Bayview Education Centre, St Mary’s Education Centre/Academy, SAERC, Tamarac Education Centre, St Andrew Junior School, Mulgrave Memorial Education Centre, East Antigonish Education Centre/Academy, Chedabucto Education Centre/Guysborough Academy, Fanning Education Centre/Canso Academy, Cape Breton Highlands Education Centre/Academy, Inverness Education Centre/Academy and East Richmond Education Centre.