By Brandon Gillet
On Wednesday, December 10, the sounds of an epic score, cardboard boating adventures, and excitement filled the chlorine-rich air of uOttawa’s pool as students raced their cardboard creations.
Through an initiative called Skills Ontario, Professor Paula Walker of the Faculty of Education has her undergraduates or teacher candidates design boats out of cardboard, culminating in the racing event.
“We had three hours to design and build a boat out of an 8-by-4 sheet of cardboard and two rolls of duct tape,” said Francis Laurin, an undergraduate working towards a degree in education.
Laurin was on Team Pirate and seemed to be channelling Captain Teach as he sported a long-flowing, black beard and bandana.
Valerie Lefebvre of Team B donned a white lab coat with her teammates for the race. In her opinion, the hardest part was the design aspect.
“We all had a lot of good ideas,” said Lefebvre. “But putting them together was difficult.”
According to Professor Walker, the lesson focuses on physics as part of the PED3131 course on teaching science. This kind of event allows students to express themselves through scientific inquiry and technological problem-solving, which is inherent in the STEM initiative developed by Skills Ontario. The project gives future educators a glimpse of what their students will work on in science classes.
The Skills Ontario boat race program aims to reach out to youth across Ontario by promoting the skilled trades and technologies, giving students opportunities to sharpen their skills in a variety of related fields.
“It’s a great learning experience because Grade eight students do this project every year,” said Laurin.
Kim Holbein from the Team S.S Titanic appreciated the event because it “puts you in the position of young students.”
“Paula is an awesome professor,” she said. “Very hands-on teaching.”
Professor Walker said that Faculty of Education support was vital to setting up such an activity.
“I appreciate the high level of support and encouragement given to me to try insightful learning opportunities with my class,” said Walker. “Many teachers, so many here at the faculty, have outstanding projects for their students. I am just one who happens to have had their class build cardboard boats for three hours last class. Science is like math, only louder!”