Eight students from St. Timoththy Jr/Sr High School competed in the Southern Alberta Skills Exploration Days held at Calgary WinSport on January 29th.
With this being the first time the Career Exploration Days was held in Calgary, Administrator Shannon Cormier and CTS/CTF Teacher Lori Mayer thought it would be a great idea to enter two coed teams of four into Exploration Days providing the students with a unique learning opportunity.
Grade nine students, Paityn Murray and Azariah Peever along with their two male teammates (Ben Walker and Tom Morrison) were excited to be selected and partake in the Skills Alberta competition. "It is mostly about getting kids to become more intuitive, innovative and active when it comes to creating things. It provides a way for junior high kids to get to know some of the skills in the trades such as carpentry, welding, plumbing and electrical that they may not have in their school community already or have access to."
There wasn't a 'winner' per se like in a competitive contest but more of an opportunity to share ideas, network, and appreciate how each team's design could tackle one of three community issues or problems. "It was cool to see everybody's different ideas and how they approached the situation. Everyone got the same, it was kind of like a three-in-one about sustainability; it was sustainable production, consumption, or disposal.
Their group of four came up with the concept, prototype, and learned the skills needed to create their finished project, an automatic watering, indoor wall garden. "It is a small sustainable garden that you can put within your home or school community and its grows produce year round. This way you are cutting down on the large scale production that you are participating in, transportation costs, chemicals that are used, as well as the amount of food that is wasted during consumption because you are growing only what you need."
The experience for the girls was a positive one and expanded their curiosity when it came to learning new skills. "There were different skills that I had no idea I could even do, like electrical for instance, that I thought I would never even want to dabble in it, but I actually really enjoyed it. I may even take welding next year because I had never tried it until our teacher started to get us prepared for it and we both loved it."
Cormier says they would absolutely partake in Exploration Days again in the future. "Feedback was exceptionally positive and I think the kids did a great job. Ms Mayer, also heard from organizers that our students did an amazing job so it wasn't just good for them, but they were a positive contribution to the overall skills. We would probably try and take more kids if we could and expand it if possible."
Mayer says, for herself, she was appreciative of the fact that students didn't need to have any previous knowledge of skills prior to entering and how quickly their design came to life. "I was mad at first about there not being an award because they worked so hard for about a month on their prototype (on paper) but then seeing that by the end of the day that they had a 3D model, it was pretty cool. It was definitely a day of learning new skills and new trades."
St. Tim's was the only school out of the Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) that partook in Exploration Days, and the school's other four-person team was recognized for their work on a drop-down door (Triple D), created to roll down and cover classroom doors during a lockdown to keep students safe.