Learning about the effects of gravity and atmosphere on earth, Mars and the moon was the objective of a record attempt for the world’s largest science lesson participated in by thousands of Canadian students Friday.
Partaking locally was the entire 420 student body of École Mother Teresa Catholic School.
Grade 4 teacher Stephanie Cardinal organized the event. When she got an email notifying her of the event, it only seemed appropriate to get her school involved.
She forwarded information to other teachers and school staff, who not only supported the idea of taking part in the lesson, but also offered their help in putting it on.
“That’s why I love our staff so much,” she said. “They’re always on board for any adventure and any challenge. We just get in there.”
During the lesson, students flew paper airplanes modified to exhibit the differences between flight on earth, Mars and the moon.
She admitted that attempting the record required much work to be done in a small window of time. With the way things turned out, however, she’s confident it was well worth the time and effort.
Everyone at the school was involved somehow: from science teachers, who demonstrated how to make paper airplanes, to the school’s ‘geek squad’, whose members dealt with technical matters.
“It was just all hands on deck, and that’s just how we are,” said Cardinal. “People just roll with it.”
“To have that number come out, that was perfect,” she said. “We wanted to be over 400, so to have the whole school participate was a huge thing.”
About 100 other schools across Canada took part in the one-hour lesson, which began at the same time nationwide, in an attempt to make it into the Guinness World Records book.
Cardinal said the event allowed the chance for the school’s elementary and middle school classes to collaborate, while at the same time learn and have fun.
Building community between all of the school’s grades is important, she added.
Students and parent volunteers also played important roles in documenting and monitoring the event to Guinness’s strict standards — in place to ensure every attempt at a world record is valid.
Also present was Tim Woods of Mustang Helicopters in Blackfalds, who told students of his experiences flying in the military. He also explained the importance gravity plays in his role as a helicopter pilot.
“I wouldn’t be able to do all of this if I didn’t understand gravity,” he said.
Other guests included Sylvan Lake Mayor Susan Samson, Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools associate superintendent, Dr. Paul Stewart, and trustee Liam McNiff.
While giving students the chance to be part of a world record and teaching them about science at the same time, the lesson also fit in with the 21st century learning concept, according to Cardinal.
“Learners of today are different,” she said. “They’re changing so fast, because the world is changing so fast.”
At press time, Cardinal was preparing paperwork for Guinness, to verify the school’s participation in the world record attempt. Reviewing video and photos of the event is required, and she hopes to have all documentation completed by the end of this week.
According to the Government of Canada’s science and technology website, evidence from all participating schools will be collected over the next several weeks, with results posted online at www.science.gc.ca.