Students across York Region participated in the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Regional Competition that challenged youths to utilize science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) concepts to solve real-world problems. Inspired by the ongoing Amazon Rainforest fires and air pollution in our cities, students from Blessed Scalabrini Catholic Elementary School’s Skyhawks FFL team, built a carbon dioxide (CO2) combating green wall to supplement the green space that is lost in major cities. This earned them the Project Innovation Award.
“The whole Blessed Scalabrini school community is very proud of these students,” said Henry Dillon-Leitch, Principal at Blessed Scalabrini. “Their enthusiasm and dedication to growing their knowledge of robotics, coding, environmental stewardship and collaborative problem-solving reflects many of the goals we strive to develop and support in all students. These are student leaders who are helping to build STEAM capacity in the school.”
The FIRST LEGO League is an annual challenge for youths across Canada. This year, students were asked to plan for a more sustainable future by creating new, innovative solutions to help shape an optimal future, using modern-day tools and technology.
The Skyhawks team explored various ideas, including utilizing mineral olivine and growing moss walls before landing on their final idea to combat CO2 emissions. Students consulted with experts, including environmentalists, the City of Vaughan’s Sustainability Group and a plant specialist.
The CO2 combating green wall is a green fence that is meant to supplement the green space that is lost due to growth of a city from construction of roads, buildings and more. This is intended to help bring the balance of CO2 emissions and natural CO2 absorption back to neutral.
Below is a list of the ways students incorporated STEAM into this project:
- Science: Students consulted with experts, including environmentalists, the City of Vaughan Sustainability Group and a plant specialist. During their interactions and research, they gained a better understanding of the carbon cycle and all things that release CO2 in a city.
- Technology: Students programmed an Arduino computer to utilize as a water sensor to automate the watering of the plants in the green wall.
- Engineering: Students designed multiple prototypes before finding one that was most effective and efficient.
- Arts: Students were creative during the design portion of the prototypes, using everything from popsicle sticks, to recycled boxes, moss and even 3D drawing programs. At their panel presentation, students created a skit to convey the problem and solution.
- Math: The team calculated a cost estimate of the design and the cost for homeowners should they choose to create their own CO2 combatting green wall.
Blessed Scalabrini Skyhawks team:
- Megan A., Grade 4
- Justin C., Grade 6
- Milena F., Grade 4
- Sabrina F., Grade 6
- Matthew I., Grade 5
- Adam M., Grade 6
- Milana M., Grade 8
- Ryan M., Grade 8
- Irene S., Grade 6
Below are some testimonies from the team:
“It was a lot of fun because it taught me a lot of perseverance and how to work with a team.”
“I really enjoyed the project portion because I learned how CO2 is damaging our environment and was very proud that our team came up with a solution that can help change our world in a better way.”
“I enjoyed the challenge because I got to help raise awareness of CO2 pollution through presentation and help make an impact on our community.”
“It was really fun because I learned to code. I got to know the kids in my school better and I was involved in most parts of the project so I learned a lot. This made me volunteer to be a teacher in our school’s Hour of Code in our library.”
“It was a great way to meet other schoolmates and a lot of fun while learning. It was a great opportunity to learn more in the STEM field and applying coding skills in a fun way.”
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