Elementary adventurers explore marine machines
Wednesday, March 5, 2014

‌What began as a notion to provide grade 5 students at Vanier Elementary School a positive science experience has snowballed into an annual in-depth Machines Boot Camp.

Three years ago Marine Institute (MI) mechanical engineering instructors John Tucker and Adam Courage became involved in their daughters’science class.

‌The idea, which began as a small talk in the Vanier Elementary gymnasium, quickly grew to an interactive morning for the grade 5 students at MI.

Machines Boot Camp 2013This past December marked the third annual Machines Boot Camp. Each year the students gather in MI’s Hampton Hall for an introduction to machines, before breaking off into four groups where they visit different labs and learn varying aspects of machines.

“When we began this boot camp Courage and I brought in our fellow instructors John Cross, Mark Wareham and John Pond to help. We brainstormed on what we could do and one of the teachers at Vanier Elementary provided us with the school board curriculum,” explained Tucker. “Based on that, we created a lecture and activities that cover the entire section of machines in the grade 5 curriculum: all in one morning.”

Machines Boot Camp 2013The boot camp consists of four twenty minute stations. The first, set up in Hampton Hall, is the initial activity designed for the event. It is instructed by Adam Courage and teaches students about calculating weight distribution on a lever.

The second is run by Pond and is held in the hydraulics lab. Students wear safety glasses and learn about using levers with hydraulics, such as crushing cans.

The third component is conducted in the strengths lab by Cross, who explains how an impact test works. Cross explains the correlation between materials and machines, by demonstrating how a machine is used to tear steel apart.

The fourth station is in the diesel shop where Wareham showcases a complex machine. He takes it apart to show students how complex ones are made up of simple, smaller machines.  This particular demonstration grabbed the attention of Tucker and Courage’s daughters during the first boot camp, so much that they have returned each year. Now in grade 7, the girls are able to give a portion of the demonstration.

Once all the demonstrations are complete, the students are rewarded by eating their lunches in the MI cafeteria before calling it a day.Machines Boot Camp 2013

Tucker, Courage, Cross, Wareham and Pond aren’t stopping here. They have plans to provide the Machines Boot Camp via distance technology for schools throughout the province. MI is in ongoing discussions with NL ‌English School District officials and teachers to implement the initiative.

“We hope to be able to expand the reach of this boot camp to provide every student a similar experience,” said Tucker. “MI is pleased to support the initiative. Having the opportunity to teach NL youth about machines at such an early stage in their education is invaluable.”