September 18th is known in Canada as National Science Reading Day. It falls halfway through Science Literacy Week (September 16th to 22nd) and encourages Canadians to get to know the world around them through a scientific lens.

To mark the occasion, Grade 4 students from Joseph Gould Public School in Uxbridge had a special guest appearance from Jane Kennedy, STEM and Science Facilitator at the Durham District School Board (DDSB).

“National Science Reading Day is an opportunity to celebrate the idea that reading is power. Power leads to knowledge, and knowledge leads to understanding,” explains Kennedy. She adds, “A scientific understanding is one of the most important things a citizen can have.”

Kennedy joined Joseph Gould PS Teacher Andrew Vert’s class in the school library, where she began by reading to them from a book entitled Once Upon a Time in the Woods by Stephen Krensky.

The book tells the story of how, when the earth was young, trees lived close together. But once they became too close, the trees needed to solve the problem of overcrowding. So they experimented and eventually concluded they should use their seeds to travel and spread out.

Make Your Own Maple Key

After the reading, students had the opportunity to use what they learned from the book in a nature-based science experiment. The experiment centred around maple keys (seeds from maple trees), and tasked students with observing and concluding how and why the seeds operate.

Instead of using real maple keys, students created their own versions by cutting and bending paper into the same shape, creating what Kennedy referred to as a ‘rotor copter.’ She says this way the student observations will be the same because natural maple keys come in all different shapes and sizes.

Once every student created their maple key, they tested them out by raising them above their heads and dropping them to examine how they fall.

Throughout the experiment, students tried adding or taking away different variables to test how the maple keys changed. Some students added or removed a paperclip, some cut the length of the wings, and some even modified their dropping technique.

Keira, a Grade 4 student, says she enjoys science because she gets to learn different things and test ideas out, “I learned how the maple seeds fall, and I like how we got to try different things to do that.”

Celebrating Science Literacy Week

To celebrate Science Literacy Week, Kennedy chose five books that she says have strong themes of perseverance and wonderance. For each book, she created an extension activity and sent the information for those materials to all DDSB elementary schools to utilize. For secondary schools, Kennedy sent subject-based articles and resources to integrate into the regular classroom practice.

For more information about Jane Kennedy’s chosen materials and activities for Science Literacy Week, check out the DDSB STEM Twitter account: @DDSB_STEM