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With a membership that is larger than your average high school football club, the Sisler Science Squad has become a popular student activity over the years, combining scientific know-how with performing arts.
Students perform flashy science demonstrations to help audiences learn about specific concepts.
"For the students on the squad, part of it is teaching them about the science behind everything, while also teaching them the acting that goes along with it," said Sisler science teacher Kaye Gaudreau.
The teachers behind the Sisler Science Squad and its affiliate schools recently won the Science Teachers' Association of Manitoba's Science Achievement Award (Organization). The award, which has been given out for 11 years, was presented at Westwood Collegiate during the province-wide SAGE (Special Area Groups of Educators) professional development day on Oct. 20.
The Sisler Science Squad keeps busy throughout the school year, bringing entertaining science shows to major events like the WSD Science Festival and the Manitoba Schools Science Symposium.
The squad puts on plays that showcase science; past themes have included Star Wars, Hunger Games and Harry Potter, while this year's theme is Marvel Superheroes.
"In previous years at science fair/festival we have done a full 45 minute play with 16 demonstrations, actors, lighting and everything else," Ms. Gaudreau said. "There's a nice overlap between drama and science…it's another way of achieving cross-curricular outcomes."
When it comes to the plays or classroom demonstrations, the Science Squad teachers heavily research demonstrations that will engage student audiences.
"We always look for demonstrations that have a definite 'wow' factor," Ms. Gaudreau said.
Along with the major science events, the squad also visits Sisler's feeder schools to set up circuits of hands-on science demonstrations for the younger students.
When it comes to the squad, parents are often just as passionate as the students. Ms. Gaudreau recalls one student who enlisted her dad to help build a display case for a dry-ice tornado demonstration.
"It ended up being three-times as large," Ms. Gaudreau said. "It's always cool to have parents involved."