Toronto, ON — A teachers’ tour of a local manufacturing plant and more emphasis on documenting the design process were a key part of the program at the fourth annual Hilltop Tech Skills Challenge held May 20, 2004.
"On the feedback sheets, the teachers indicated that the tour of the Rubbermaid facility was an outstanding learning opportunity," said Neil Quimby, Hilltop Middle School principal. The one-hour tour exposed the teachers to hydraulic, pneumatic and electrical automation technologies and brought alive the fluid power concepts that their students were using in the competition.
The Hilltop Challenge is a partnership of the Canadian Fluid Power Association (CFPA), the Toronto District School Board and Technology Teaching Systems. It is intended to give students the experience of solving problems using technology and to get them excited about careers in technology.
This year, 19 teams from Toronto District School Board schools participated in the challenge (one school had to drop out at the last minute due to a serious fire ). Each team, which consisted of two female and two male Grade 8 students, had to design and construct a mechanism that used hydraulic concepts from the Science and Technology curriculum to perform a defined task. The 2004 task involved picking up a small box and placing it in a target zone.
In an effort to reflect "real world" practice, this year’s marking scene, developed by Hilltop Challenge facilitator Steve Rogers of TTS, put more emphasis on documenting the design process and on precise control of each school’s mechanism. As a result, the quality of the design portfolio’s was much improved, he said, with a number featuring very sophisticated computer-generated drawings.
"I wish we could get learning happening like this all the time," said Quimby.
The CFPA is willing to support similar competitions in other school boards. Anyone wanting additional information is encouraged to visit www.cfpa.ca. or to call either of these CFPA education co-chairmen: John Bachmann, 905-501-5933, or Alan Scott, 905-829-5800 ext 28.