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Teacher Librarian at Spencer Avenue PS posed science mystery to students

June 5, 2020

ORANGEVILLE, Ontario – Primary students at Spencer Avenue Public School were recently given a science mystery to solve.

While up at her cottage with her family over March Break, Spencer Avenue PS Teacher Librarian Sandra McLarnon’s son discovered a four centimetre wide hole in the snow. Curious about the hole, her son waited with his camera and eventually determined it was made by a chipmunk. McLarnon started thinking about what a fun mystery it would be for her primary students to try and figure out how a hole like that would be made.


The process for students started with a simple question, ‘How do you think the hole was made?’ After seeing the picture of the hole, students were ready to begin their research.

Based on knowing that the hole was created by a chipmunk, students used the program PebbleGo to help with their research. Using this program, students learned about the body of a chipmunk, its habitat, food, life cycle, geographical location and the sounds chipmunks make.  Students were very interested in chipmunks and even learned that they use pouches in both of their cheeks to store food.

For the final stage of the assignment, McLarnon invited Dr. John Smol to virtually speak to students about how a scientist would go about solving a mystery. Dr. Smol is a professor in the Biology Department at Queen’s University.

According to McLarnon, Dr. Smol definitely understands his audience and was the perfect expert to help teach these young learners about how to solve scientific mysteries.

By the end of the learning process, students said they enjoyed the fun and engaging way that this assignment was given and how it piqued their curiosity. Students also applied measurement to work through this problem, created graphs using their data and learned how scientists approach similar problems. Students enjoyed this hands-on activity while learning from home.

Let us know some of the fun activities you have been doing while participating in distance learning. ​

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