• Registration
STEM Collaboration PDF Print E-mail
 STEM-Focused Approach to Learning at Thomson  TDSB STEM

  Thomson is a STEM Lead School of the TDSB.  Continued implementation of STEM-focused learning in Science and other subjects at Thomson is meeting the goal of TDSB's Years of Action Plan.  Science teachers are among leaders of Thomson's STEM Committee whose goal is creating a school-wide culture of STEM-focused learning in variety of subject areas.


STEM-Focused Goals of the Science Department for Students:

  • Introduction and mastery of use of technologies and applied technologies (e.g. Vernier probeware and robotics - LEGO Mindstorms, Arduino, FIRST Robotics Competition) to help develop skills of creativity and critical thinking. 
  • More integration of Problem-Based Learning and Challenges to help develop skills of applying science principles to real-world scenarios. 
  • More connections between Science and other subjects to nurture more awareness of relevance of learning science.
  • More opportunities to experience real-world scientific investigations and mentorship in science-based work environments.

  STEM Education has been gained importance in schools across Canada, the United States, and other international countries.  

  Learning and practicing skills of STEM is important for all students - not only for students choosing to become scientists.  Learning and practicing skills of STEM throughout schooling will best prepare students for success in any workplace and the challenges of life as a Canadian citizen.


10STEM skills 4Cs

Thomson Science Classes Provide Opportunities for Creativity, Exploring, and Risk-Taking

  Engineering is using science to inventdesign, build, and improve something or a process.  Thus, successful engineering requires opportunities for creativity.  

Be brave take risks ls 0.2

  Therefore, creativity, as a skill of STEM, is just as important as collaboration, communication, and critical thinking.

  Engineered products are the results of creativity, exploring, and risk-taking.  To ensure that students understand this, teachers provide opportunities to express creativity and encourage risk-taking in safe, non-threatening classroom environments.

  At Thomson, fostering the attitude of taking risks fearlessly and safely in problem-solving is valued as highly as actually achieving the task.  Students, through exploration and learning by trial-and-error, are better prepared and gain confidence to face new challenges in science classes and beyond.

Live creative fear being wrong Joseph Chilton Pearce ls 0.2

Person doesnt make mistakes - Paul Adren ls 0.6

Success what it really looks like 0.15

 Failure is not getting up ls crp2



STEM Collaboration with Departments

   On March 26, 2015, all Grade 9 students, in small groups, completed a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) Challenge.  Given the real-world scenario of needing to drop supplies to groups of people in need, small groups of students practiced the STEAM-approach to solving this problem - identifying, designing, building, testing, and re-examining.

  Awards were presented to teams exemplifing Best TeamworkMost Innovative DeviceUnderstanding of Design Process (a.k.a. Future Engineering Award), Team Spirit, and Best Design of Team Crest.  

  Congratulations to all who participated!




STEM Collaboration with Feeder Schools

   The Science Department at Thomson has been working together with Science Departments of feeder schools to help students, through their schooling, develop and master their skills of STEM - ScienceTechnologyEducation, and Math


DMT logo

Grade 7 Hovercraft Challenge

with Charles Gordon Senior P. S.

CharlesGordonSrPS logo 0.76 

  On June 25, 2014, one hundred Grade 7 students from Charles Gordon Senior Public School collaborated with Science students from Thomson in small groups to design, construct, and test their own hovercrafts:  

STEM Gr7Hovercraft 2014.06.25 ls 0.21 IMG9872

  The end result of the hovercraft had to meet the following criteria:  

  • The base of each hovercraft can be uniquely designed but had a total surface area no larger than one square metre.  
  • The hovercraft had to glide smoothly across the floor.

  The objective of the day was providing the Grade 7 students opportunities to apply their skills of STEM on a project reflecting the learning of concepts in the Grade 7 Science and Math Curriculums: 

hovercraft how works

Force Acceleration Surface area formulas


Leadership Opportunities in Science

  This event provided Thomson's science students the opportunity to practice and apply their leadership skills as coaches in small group settings.  Before the day of the event, coaches assumed roles of designers, calculators, and builders to experience the tasks of the Grade 7 student engineers.  The coaches, as mentors to younger students, also received training on effective communication skills to bring out the best in others.  

Gr7Hovercraft leader IMG 9680 ls 0.1 Gr7 Hovercraft leader IMG 9687 ls 0.15 Gr7Hovercraft leader IMG 9694 ls 0.15

STEM Skills at Work


 In small groups, Grade 7 Engineers and Thomson Coaches were assigned various roles:

  • Coaches:   Facilitate discussion, offer guidance, handle unsafe equipment
  • Engineers: Designer, calculators, measurers, builders, testers  
In addition to the tasks assigned, students and coaches were encouraged to offer help to other team members.  The gymnasium was a key location because it allowed different groups to view each other's processes and products, thus encouraging the sharing of different ideas from diverse groups.


  Grade 7 engineers, completing their assigned tasks under set time frame, were required to inform others on their progress in order for the entire group to complete the task under the set time frame allowed.  

Gr7Hovercraft IMG 8561 ls 0.1 GrHovercraft IMG 8565 ls 0.1 Gr7Hovercraft IMG 8559 ls 0.15
Gr7Hovercraft IMG 8558 ls 0.1 GrHovercraft IMG 8583 ls 0.1 Gr7Hovercraft IMG 9800 ls 0.12
GrHovercraft IMG 8578 ls 0.1 GrHovercraft IMG 8580 ls 0.1 GrHovercraft IMG 8585 ls 0.1
GrHovercraft IMG 9841 ls 0.15 GrHovercraft IMG 9843 ls 0.12



  Prior to meeting as a team, student engineers were intentionally not shown any existing models of hovercrafts designed or constructed by the coaches.  This ensured that Grade 7 students utilize purposefully their creativity in the following ways:

  • Appearance of their hovercraft unique and reflective of the team
  • Base of hovercraft measured a total surface area of one metre square

  The engineers were encouraged to be as creative as possible in their design of their hovercraft.  Creativity is a STEM skill that results in innovations and inventions that solve new problems.

GrHovercraft IMG 9842 ls 0.1 GrHovercraft IMG 9837 ls 0.12 Gr7Hoverfract IMG 9847 ls 0.12
Gr7Hovercraft IMG 9836 ls 0.12 GrHovercraft IMG 9835 ls 0.12 GrHovercraft IMG 9838 ls 0.12
Gr7Hovercraft IMG 9874 ls 0.12 GrHovercraft IMG 9845 ls - Copy 0.1 Gr7Hovercraft IMG 9875 ls 0.12


Critical Thinking

  Student engineers had several decisions to make, critical to the success of the hovercraft:

  • Design of the styrofoam base to hold a person while the hovercraft glides smoothly
  • Location of hole in the styrofoam base to cut and place the hole stencil for the leaf blower
  • Location and number of holes in the vapour barrier sheet to allow hovercraft to lift an individual
  • Sequencial order of assembling parts of the hovercraft
  • Placement and application of duct tape to secure the parts of the hovercraft during the test

Students tested their hovercraft and made adjustments to their product.  Re-examining the process for improving the usefulness of the product is a key concept in engineering that was applied.

GrHovercraft IMG 9771 ls 0.15 Gr7Hovercraft IMG 9784 ls 0.12 Gr7Hovercraft IMG 8574 ls 0.1
Gr7Hovercraft IMG 9853 ls 0.15 Gr7Hovercraft IMG 8553 ls 0.12 Gr7Hovercraft IMG 9857 ls 0.1


 Showcase of Hovercrafts

Gr7Hovercraft IMG 9881 ls 0.3 Gr7Hovercraft IMG 8588 ls 0.2
Gr7Hovercraft IMG 9873 ls 0.2 Gr7Hovercraft IMG 9891 ls 0.2


Congratulations and Thank You Thomson Science Coaches!

Gr7Hovercraft IMG 9832 ls 0.35


Congratulations Grade 7 Engineers, We Hope that You Had Fun!

GrHovercraft IMG 8603 ls 0.3



STEM Activity on Grade 8 Day 

   On November 6, 2013, prospective Grade 8 students from Charles Gordon Sr. P. S., Edgewood P. S., St. Andrews P. S., Robert Service Sr. P. S., John McCrae P. S., Knob Hill P. S., and J. S. Woodsworth Sr. P. S. were challenged with a STEM-based task, showcasing hands-on learning at Thomson.

   The task was building the longest nose, not touching the floor and attached to a student sitting on a chair, made of only newspaper and tape.  

  The task allowed students to experience challenges of finding solutions to problems, working with existing parameters, similarly to experiences of engineers needing to build bridges over given environments for instance.

Gr8Day 2013.11.05 ls ADJSHRP0.5 CRPCOLBRI 0.13 

Last Updated on Monday, 03 August 2015 16:14
Copyright © 2018. David & Mary Thomson C.I.. Designed by Shape5.com

S5 Box

Login Form

S5 Register


Fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required.