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. 

Visiting Ikea

As you guys know at the beginning of October our class had a drafting project were we had to furnish a really small Bachelors apartment. Part of our project was to add things that Ikea sold and draft them to scale on a piece of paper.

The Ikea trip was only for half the day and we took public transit to get there. That only left us about an hour and fifteen minutes to walk around and look at the many furnishings they offered and list them in our excel sheet. We had to put down the price (with tax) and write down the dimensions so we could properly put it on our draft.

Since we left as soon as we could after second block, we did not have time to eat so a good amount of our class bought food there including Ikeas famous meatballs. I tried the meatballs and I can confirm that they are very good. I love being able to be places and learn about topics in person rather than online so this was a great experience.

BETA Students learning to Fundraise

As many of you know, The BETA-MiniSchool and students from enriched science are going to Iceland in March to learn about geysers and Earth science. Obviously trips like this are not free, and there is a significant cost along with this trip. In addition to our projects such as science fair and IDS, we now have a fundraising project until January to raise around $1000 per person if we are going to Iceland, and $500 if we aren’t going to Iceland. The $500 would be put towards a registered charity of your choice.

In Iceland, we are going to explore Þingvellir National Park, including Haukadalur home of the geysers and Þingvellir parks 84-square kilometer body of water. The lake there is also Iceland’s largest natural lake.

Another highlight of this trip is the black sand beaches. The black sand beaches consist of 5 main beaches. Reynisfjara Beach, Diamond Beach, Vik’s Beach, The beach with the solheimasandur plane wreck and Stokksnes Beach. These beaches are also one of the best scenic landscapes in Iceland. The name Black Beaches was given to these beaches because the sand is entirely black. The sand in Iceland is black because tiny fragments from the basalt lava that covers the area. The most famous black sand beaches are in Hawaii but it’s because the area is covered in volcanoes.

The fundraising consists of submitting a proposal, actually doing the fundraiser, and creating a budget for our expenses vs income. For the proposal, each of us need to specify things like timing, location, materials, preparation, cost, etc. Once you finish, it goes through a lengthy process of getting approved by Ms. Neumann, student caucus, and then maybe Mr. Wozney.

Some ideas for fundraising are things such as popcorn sales, movie nights, selling 3D printed trinkets, bagging groceries at supermarkets, etc. The ideas must be school appropriate eliminating ideas such as gambling.

If you do the fundraiser outside of school grounds, you need to submit a field trip form even if it’s outside of school hours, since it technically counts as school work as the Iceland trip is from school. Ms. Neumann or Mr. Murray will need to be with you the entire fundraiser.

After you finish, you need to do a budgeting and reflection sheet as a statement of your completion. The budget sheets we practiced included a date, name, description, income, expenses, and balance.