Pre-Departure Meeting: February 20th

My apologies, the livestream did not work as my microphone was muted. Please send me an email if you have any questions:

Iceland Pre-Departure Meeting_February 20

Here is the updated powerpoint with corrections on weight for carry-on bags (22lbs) and 3 person rooming charts. 

If you have any concerns with the rooming, please come see me in person next week or send me an email.

Thank you!

Cow Eye Dissections

The week before winter break, the grade eights participated in a cow eye dissection as part of the optics unit. The eyes came in a plastic bag titled “Cow Eyes for Ms. Neumann”, which sounded somewhat comical considering what they were for. After they were handed out, we proceeded to examine the eye, and then remove the tissue and fat around it. They were sticky and cold. By the time we were finished cutting, our hands were covered with muscle and fat. After this, we cut open the eye to examine the lens, the cones, and the retina. It was fascinating to see something we usually sturdy on paper materialize right in front of us. The lens magnified things, and the cones were an indication of the environment the cows lived in.  The vitreous humor and the aqueous humor spilled out when we cut the eye. This was not pleasant for our hands, nor our noses, but it was interesting, as we never discussed appearance of the insides of a cow eye. This was a highly educational experience, and it brought more depth and understanding to our learning.   

Iceland Update!

Dear Iceland Travellers, Parents and Guardians,

It is crazy to believe that we will be leaving for Iceland in 2 months! With so little time left, we have arranged several upcoming meetings to ensure that every traveler is well prepared for our trip and that as many questions are answered as possible. I will be emailing any important updates to students Outlook emails, alongside the emails provided when students signed up for the EF Tour. Additional information, PowerPoints, and reminders of upcoming meetings can also be found at:

Wednesday, January 23rd, 7:00 p.m.: Parent Meeting for Iceland Trip

  • Mandatory meeting for Parents whose children are attending the Iceland Field Trip. The meeting will take place in the learning commons at 7:00 p.m. We will cover pre-departure topics including packing, behavior expectations, emergencies, rooming, and more! Come with your questions.

Wednesday, February 6th, 11:40 a.m.: Student Luncheon for Iceland Trip

  • Mandatory lunch for students traveling to Iceland. Come meet your fellow travel companions and pick rooming arrangements.

Wednesday, February 20th, 7:00 p.m.: Parent and Student Meeting for Iceland Trip

  • Mandatory meeting for all parents and students who are attending the Iceland Field Trip. This meeting will take place in the learning commons at 7:00 pm. We will review the final trip information, itinerary, departure and return day schedules, introduce chaperones, and review essential travel information. Students will also receive their EF backpack and meet their designated chaperone for the trip!

Wednesday, March 6th, 11:40 a.m.: Student Luncheon for Iceland Trip

  • Mandatory lunch meeting for students traveling to Iceland. We will provide a pizza lunch!

These meetings are mandatory. If for some reason you are unable to attend, please contact Elixa Neumann at We will do our best to livestream the meetings for future viewing, should there be any additional questions.

Thank you very much,

Elixa Neumann

BETA Bits of Business

What did the grade eights do in November and December?

The primary thing would probably be the trip to Planet Lazer on November 22. There, we played laser tag to help us understand optics. Our focus was to look at all the lighting used at the centre, including the vests and ‘guns’. We had to look at how electromagnetic waves are transmitted, received, and registered. Another thing that we had to think about was the psychological effects of light in the brain. For example, some of us briefly researched how varying intensities of light cause different reactions in our brain.

We also had to create a holiday ornament in tinkercad (a 3D modeling software). The only criteria for this assignment was that it had to fit in a 4cm x 4cm x 4cm cube and that it had to represent something each student did during winter break. We had about a week to finish the ornament – by December 3. Most people related their ornament to Christmas, but some decided to focus more on the winter aspect.

On December 3, 5, and 7, we had our IDS check-ins, and set ourselves goals for the next meeting, all the way in March. The check-ins were fairly quick, so we didn’t delve into the specifics. Most sessions lasted 2-4 minutes. We should have researched our topic for at least 40 hours to meet the target set by ourselves in our plan in September.

The other highlight was the trip to Science World. There, we watched a movie on engineering, as well as looked at the PIXAR animation exhibit. Our primary focuses were the movie we watched, and reflecting on the goals we set ourselves in class. A lot of students also enjoyed the periods in between the activities, when we explored all the exhibits at Science World.

A look at BETA over the month of November…

BETA Bits 

On November the 6th the AEIC group came to BETA to teach us a bit about Virtual Reality, the main highlight of the month.  

They gave us a presentation showing us what virtual, augmented, and mixed reality was, a quick introduction into what they were. The presentation included some examples of augmented and virtual reality in movies, the definitions of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality, some of the uses of virtual and augmented reality such as for surgeons, games, etc., and images of the equipment that is and will be used in virtual reality.  

After that short introduction we went into one of two stations, one teaching people about some basic knowledge of Unity, and another letting us try out VR games through headsets and controllers. 

In the unity station, we learned how to implement a basic texture pack folder through a shop in Unity. This allowed us to have grass and mountain textures. We learned how create mountains with a tool that sort of painted material onto a surface. It was very basic, and the designs did not look very professional. The tool that was used to create mountains could also “paint” trees on the mountainous terrain that we created. It was a simple introduction into Unity, but it did teach us a bit on what the Unity interface felt like and what could be created. 

After the first station, each group went into the other station. 

In the virtual reality station, I personally thought that Beat Saber looked much more interesting and basically played only that for the entire time. The games were immersive and exciting, the noise cancelling headphones and headset modifying both your hearing and seeing senses creating an immersive gaming experience. It was exhilarating to play and an intriguing way to show the true capabilities of virtual reality.   

In other BETA bits, 

We were assigned an industrial revolution project. In this project, we would have to create a presentation about an invention that was created in the industrial revolution, give a bit of background knowledge on it, and attempt to sell it to people in our class. The person who got the most money won. On the day of the presentations, we each were handed 6 Murray bucks and told to purchase items from the people. Many people did not purchase based on usefulness of a project but based on how good the advertising was.  

Albeit this was not based in real life, some of the purchases were also based on “I pay for yours, you pay for mine, so we can both say that we got purchases” still, I noticed a consistency, the better the advertising in a presentation, the more the purchases. 

Right after this project, we were assigned another relatively difficult project in which you had to design your own product, do sketches on it, create a colored model, explain the cost of production and its use, finishing it in 2 weeks. It is a project requiring creative thinking and logical planning. 

The IDS check ins will be happening from December 5 to December 7. This year we will be marked more on how much we have followed our IDS plan, and the focus will be shifted away from hours. This is the result of some people using their hours more productively while some people doze off and count it as hours.

Wifi: What does it do for student learning?

Here’s before: 

Here’s after: 

As you can very clearly see, the amount of work being done isn’t exactly the same, is it? Why, you ask? Oh, most probably because there isn’t any Wifi around. And a lack of Wifi means no laptops or iPads, because they are connected to school servers and we can’t even log in to the laptops to do simple tasks like typing, let alone doing things like sending emails and documents back and forth or looking things up. 

And why is Wifi so important, you ask? I mean you were kids once without technology and yet you still live. Pen and paper worked just as fine as Microsoft Word, and there used to be dictionaries and encyclopedias before Google. This new generation of students is so used to the comfort and efficiency of Googling information or having AutoCorrect fix our every mistake and suggest synonyms that sometimes we forget all the things that are still possible without electronic devices. 

But at the end of the day, we need Wifi, to perform our tasks, just like you needed dictionaries.