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What’s happening in Rainbow Schools?

R.L. Beattie students create simple machines with IB students from Lo-Ellen Park

An inquisitive group of Grade 3/4 students from R.L. Beattie Public School have partnered with Grade 12 International Baccalaureate (IB) students from Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School to design simple machines that could load Santa’s sleigh with presents.

A simple machine, which is a concept taught in the Grade 4 science curriculum, is a mechanical device that changes the direction or magnitude of a force.

The idea for a partnership surfaced when Jennifer Peloso, a Grade 12 IB teacher from Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School, was exploring ways her students could give back.

“The guiding principles of an IB education includes a community mindedness component, and encourages students to be caring communicators,” said teacher Jennifer Peloso. “To reinforce this, I thought it would be good for my students to support an elementary class on a curriculum-based project.”

R.L. Beattie Public School student Marlow MacVeigh, left, works on project plans in the library with partner Devan Patel of Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School.
After presenting the idea to Jodie Dubeau, a Grade 3/4 teacher at R.L. Beattie Public School, both educators agreed the collaboration would be mutually beneficial.

“I was very enthusiastic about the opportunity,” says Roan Rilkoff, a Grade 12 student from Lo-Ellen Park. “The project would allow us to explore what it means to be an IB student by paying it forward with our learning.”

For the project, elementary students were randomly paired with a secondary student to design and build a system of at least three simple machines that could skillfully load Santa’s sleigh with presents.

During the first meeting, which took place in December, the newly formed pairs found a cozy spot in the elementary classroom or library to brainstorm their build.

Lucy Del Olmo Cryderman, left, of R.L. Beattie Public School, and partner Finlay Cuza of Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School conceptualize their simple machine design.
Students began by discussing the various types of simple machines, including what they are, what they do, and how they could help them develop a plan of action.

“We had a neat idea for a drawing,” said Piper Dutrisac, a Grade 4 student from R.L. Beattie Public School and partner to Roan Rilkoff. “I thought that if we brought the presents really high, they would just go right down into the sleigh.”

“The first visit was absolutely adorable,” said teacher Jennifer Peloso. “Both groups were just as engaged in planning and neither wanted the session to end.”

“Looking around the room, I could see many smiles and conversations happening,” said teacher Jodie Dubeau. “My students really loved using the science terminology they learned from their partners. Everyone had a great time.”

Partners Arina Kashlakova, left, and Edwin Wei begin the assembly process.
When students reconvened in February, they spent the afternoon using creativity, innovation and materials such as pulleys, levers, inclined planes, wheels, axles, and wedges to bring their concepts to life.

Like others, partners Piper Dutrisac and Roan Rilkoff hit a roadblock in the early stages of development.

“We wanted to pull a present up on a ramp but we had to be sure that the present would stay on the ramp for the entire duration of its journey,” said Roan Rilkoff. “Piper came up with the brilliant solution of adding rails, so that’s what we implemented in our design.”

“When our first idea didn’t work, I never lost hope because we had to fix some things,” said Piper. “I learned a lot along the way.”

Piper Dutrisac tests her device while partner Roan Rilkoff looks on.
“I was thoroughly impressed at the level of patience exhibited by the Grade 12 students,” said teacher Jodie Dubeau. “It was great to see students of varying ages working synergistically towards a common goal.”

Through twists and turns, and trial and error, students were able to successfully use their simple machines to load presents into Santa’s sleigh. With such a triumphant collaboration, both groups decided to take on another project in the spring.

“This project was a perfect example of how student partnerships lead to positive outcomes,” said teacher Jennifer Peloso. “We look forward to another rewarding learning adventure in the months to come.”


Media Contact:

Nicole Charette, Senior Advisor
Corporate Communications and Strategic Planning
Rainbow District School Board, 705-674-3171 ext. 7217.

Emma McKague of R.L. Beattie Public School builds her simple machine.
Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School’s Olivia Tissot, left, and partner Colby Beeson of R.L. Beattie Public School work collaboratively on their simple machine.
Student Maggie Hughes puts the finishing touches on her design.