Students had the chance to explore a little space during Actua’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Challenge at Tuugaalik High School in Naujaat on Nov. 16.
The project was overseen by science teacher Gregg Durrant and principal Aubrey Bolt, with this year’s STEM theme being space exploration.
Tuugaalik students in Grades 7 and 8 tried to create the robotic Canadarm of Space Shuttle Columbia fame, while those in Grades 9 through 12 focusing their efforts on a self-propelled Mars rover.
The Naujaat high school hosts both Actua’s STEM Challenge and the Kivalliq Science Educator’s Community-designed SET (science, engineering and technology) Challenge each year.
Bolt said students working on the Canadarm had to use the two pieces of the arm to move an object one metre.
He said ‘the longer the arm the better’ proved itself to be the best approach, with the longest arm to complete the task measuring out at about 68 cm.
“The students could use straws, Popsicle sticks, paper and tape to build their arms,” said Bolt.
“You had to make a little cup shape, pin the object between that and the arm and then move it one metre.
“The Grade 8 students ended-up having the better ones between the two grades.”
Bolt said for the Mars rover, students were given wooden skewers and they were allowed to make a cardboard base and wheels for the rover.
Mouse trap release
He said it was operated by coiling a piece of string around one of the axles and using a mousetrap to release it.
“As the piece of string unravels, it moves the rover ahead.
“The longest distance travelled by one of the rovers was around 88 cm.
“Some of the kids had design flaws to their rovers, and it was soon apparent that smaller wheels provided the best drag and worked better, especially when you doubled-up the wheels and taped them together.
“For the most part they all worked out pretty well.”
Bolt said both the annual STEM Challenge and the SET Challenge are quite popular with the students.
He said both groups of students seemed to enjoy this year’s theme and working with the Canadarm and the Mars rover.
“It’s all hands-on effort and you have to put a little bit of your own ingenuity into it, and that’s what seems to attract many of our students to the challenge.
“They had lots of fun with it again this year.
“Our students always enjoy hands-on activities that also allow their imaginations to go to work.”