New Year = New Additions to the Learning Commons

Students have been ringing in the New Year within the Learning Commons by tinkering with some newly acquired gadgets and experiences.

They are thoroughly enjoying Osmo, a game system that allows students to interact with an iPad, opening it up to hands-on play. Thus far, they have dabbled with the Tangram and Numbers apps.

Tangrams have been around for almost a thousand years, but Osmo reinvents this classic using a fully interactive video experience. Independently and in pairs, students from Grades 1 through 8 have been exercising their spatial and visual problem-solving skills.

The Numbers app allows students to add, count and multiply using the interactive tiles. Their goal is to match the numbers on the bubbles. Popping enough bubbles will free the fish and unleash a storm of lightning and thunder! Big or small, even or odd, they are all attempting to become the next Numbers Master!

Another bright light has been the addition of a light table. It is large enough to accommodate several students at once and has been sparking student imaginations since its arrival! For now, students are manipulating various coloured shape tiles and pegs, creating Tangrams, patterns and artistic colour mixing images. It has been a fabulous way to explore objects with the added dimension of upward facing light. In the coming weeks/months, students will be investigating silhouettes and x-rays, amongst many other things.


Have you heard about the radio signals that are being picked-up within the Mazo Learning Commons? Budding scientists and future electricians have fallen in love with Snap Circuits. Students have been completing many impressive experiments, some through sheer guess-and-check methods, others following pre-existing procedures. The colourful pieces and pictures provided in the kits have allowed students to build everything from FM radios to doorbells and burglar alarms!

The engineering station has seen its share of growth, too. The intermediates have been creating quite the “freestanding” towers out of “Straws & Connectors“! The “Gears! Gears! Gears!” construction sets have allowed students to create their own custom designs that actually move. Perhaps the most frustrating, yet rewarding addition has been the “Tumble Trax” – a magnetic marble run. Groups of students have been using long, short and curved magnetic pieces to create unique marble runs. Rearranging pieces is a must, and dropping the marbles from the highest points seems to be “the” responsibility of a lifetime! Engineering and problem-solving have never been so much fun!

On a smaller scale, the weaving and knitting tasks are still quite popular. Students have successfully made scarves, toques and leg warmers! It’s amazing to see how they learn from each other. In many cases, students are sharing their own expertise and capacity building is well on its way!

Last, but certainly not least, the current duct tape challenge has been quite the adventure. Students are preparing for a duct tape fashion show. As we have witnessed, duct tape has become a very popular crafting medium. One of the more uncommon uses for this durable tape is to make clothing. You don’t need a lot of fancy schmancy materials like, say, cloth or thread to make sweet fashions… all you need is a few rolls of duct tape and time. Student creations have been impressive – once they figure out how to get the tape fashions on-and-off the model.


There are so many other bits and pieces to share… please stay tuned!

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