Danger Construction Zone!

Can grade ¾ students influence the building of their new school? The 2017-2018 grade 3 students met with the Superintendent of Schools and Associate Superintendent, Business Services in April 2018 after the Provincial Government announced the list of new schools. The students have four action research projects that they would like to complete, then present their findings to the board and the contractors in the 2018-2019 school year to make suggestions on how to make their new school more energy efficient. Can these young members of society make their voices heard?

Blinded by Light

Blinded by Light's research question is: Can roof windows (skylights) reduce electricity costs? Can room temperature be controlled with the help of solar blinds? (The students turned this into a two-part experiment after meeting with the Superintendents based on the conversations they had with them.)

The reasoning for the new school: Roof windows (skylights) add natural light. You don't have to turn the lights on. No lights = No power. Solar blinds help control the temperature which lowers heating costs.

Since we cannot put a hole in the roof of our current school we have to get a little creative. We can build a solar oven to mimic rooms depending on the size of the box it will help determine the temperature. We can then use different sizes of holes for roof windows (skylights) to determine changes in temperature.

Our current classroom has two full walls of windows. We would like to buy a solar blind to put up on one panel of one wall of windows and compare the temperature differences with the windows using the current blinds on both walls of windows. This would allow us to compare the difference in temperatures between our South and West facing windows.

We will also go to a neighboring community that completed a retrofit of their elementary school with new skylights and blinds to ask their students, teachers and principal if they have noticed any differences between their old school and the retrofitted school.

What we need to buy: Materials to build our own solar ovens, we will borrow some solar ovens from the junior high science lab at no cost, Solar blinds for one panel of windows, a trip to the SAIT building, a trip to the new school in the neighboring community.

The H2000's research question is: Which is more water efficient – one large sink or many smaller sinks in the bathrooms?

The reasoning for the new school: Our thinking is that we will reduce water consumption with one large sink instead of many smaller sinks.

Questions we need to address: How do we track sink information? Is there something we can attach to track water usage? We need to ask Head of Maintenance. Since the K-4 students currently have smaller sinks and the 5-9 students have large sinks this is a doable project. However, do smaller kids always wash their hands? Do we need to switch the bathrooms around a couple of times to maintain validity?

What we need to buy: monitoring devices for the sinks in the four student bathrooms, and we need to go see the SAIT building.

Brainteaser Research Question (which we cannot research): Could we have a communal sink that both boys and girls can use instead of one in both bathrooms – would that reduce our water consumption in the new school? Would one large row of floor to ceiling stalls be more water efficient than separate bathrooms?

The "In"-Solutions project replaced the H2OOO's when it was determined that the students would have minimal access to research this project. Their new project is:

Question: What type of insulation will be the most energy efficient? Blue foam? White foam? Hay? or Pickle chips? (Pickles is the name of the guinea pig in grade 5/6 and we used some of his wood shavings)

Our hypothesis is that hay is the best followed by pickle chips.

What we need to do: Build four mini houses, one with each type of insulation. Then insert a thermometer to measure internal temperature.

What we know: Insulation keeps our temperature steady.

What we need to buy: insulation, wood, screws, nails.

We can get thermometers from the science lab.

Brainteaser Question: How would compost insulation compare?

The Solar Express research question is: Will a triangular roof structure capture more solar energy than a flat roof structure?

The reasoning for the new school: If we can capture the solar energy it can heat our school, heat water and cool the school in the summer.

What we need to buy are: triangular solar buildings, rectangular solar buildings and we need to go to see the SAIT environmental building.

The Rain Gauges research question is: How can we gather our rainwater and use it in our school greenhouse?

The reasoning for the new school: Currently we use treated water to water in the school greenhouse. This is a waste of precious water. We should use nature’s water when it is available and not treated water.

How can we gather this water? We could use buckets, a cistern or a big hole, gutters, drains or a big pool. We need to ask Maintenance to reroute the gutters to the greenhouse or to use a rain bucket (barrel) for us to hold water after the spring thaw.

When our new school is built it is not going to be bigger but smaller. It is going to be only one level which will make it bigger, but it will have fewer classrooms which will make it smaller. This way it will make directing the water easier. We do know that our greenhouse will have to move when our new school is built. Until then we want to reduce our water consumption in our greenhouse.

What we need to buy: Rain barrels and gutters, possible small cistern after talking to Maintenance.