Building bridges, building ideas

A combination of creative teaching and federal funding has given a group of local students an opportunity to try their hands at engineering.
The Grade 7-8 classes at J.W. Walker School (housed at Sixth Street School during renovations at their own school) last week unveiled their science projects, which turned out to have a common theme—bridges.
And there was no lack of variety and imagination. Some were beautifully realistic miniatures of modern-day suspensions bridges while others were clever replicas of covered wooden bridges made out of popsicle sticks.
And it didn’t stop there.
Bill Daley, a science teacher and vice-principal at J.W. Walker, said each student was required to research the project as well as submit drawings and a written report—just like real engineers.
There also were size limitations.
“They’re all supposed to be between 50 and 100 cm long and at least 30 cm high,” Daley said as he inspected the work of his students last Wednesday.
Daley said this particular project was special for another reason. The cost of research and materials did not come solely from the local school board’s budget
“It’s part of the ‘Grassroots’ program,” he explained.
“Grassroots” is a special educational program set up by the federal government. Traditionally, education funding is strictly a provincial affair, but in this case, Ottawa has invested in the project.
Daley said the results of the project will posted on a website to be set up later. That also was part of the program, and the students will have input in the building of that website.