Through a recent virtual presentation, Grade 9 students in the HDSB’s I-STEM program
at Aldershot High School impressed City of Burlington officials and staff by offering engineering ideas to prevent ongoing erosion of the West Aldershot Creek that is adjacent to their school.
A total of 70 students were split into 16 groups to create solutions to address the creek’s erosion problem. The West Aldershot Creek is located between Fairwood Place and Lake Ontario. Students presented their final solutions including 3D models and sketches to city staff, the mayor and Halton District School Board Trustees.
“The students did a phenomenal job and their solutions were extremely innovative,” says Hilary Rivett, I-STEM & Healthy Active Living Teacher. “We are also very proud of each I-STEM student as this was their first time solving an issue. We built a virtual community with these groups and students were asked to be the Math and technological experts in some cases and Science and Geography experts in others to help their groups solve this issue through that lens.”
The curriculum connections are very deep with this project, Rivett explains, including in the areas of Science (teachers Rivett and Lindsay Mizerovsky) such as sustainable ecosystems; Geography (teacher Kim Greenwood) such as liveable communities; Math (teacher Matt Henry) such as Measurement and Geometry, and exploring technologies (teacher Warren Hutton).
Rivett says the hope is students learned critical thinking skills to solve a local real-world issue; working collaboratively virtually with students they have never met before, in other classes; problem solving, leadership and organizational skills; computer and technology skills such as making a video using Screencastify and other technologies; applying the understanding of Indigenous knowledge of water and treaties to this project; and more.
Student Adam Mesameh says part of his solution included installing erosion mats - stabilizing fabric designed to support plant growth and reinforce soil - and planting specific trees and shrubs that have good water absorption.
“The erosion that is happening in the west Aldershot ravine is already severe in some parts of the ravine,” he says. “If we don't act, not only will the erosion get worse but it will generate more problems in the area.”
Amy Daca, Stormwater Management Technologist with the City of Burlington, was present during the students’ presentations and says the solutions were impressive and well thought out.
“My colleagues and I were very impressed with the level of ingenuity, detail and research the students put into their solutions,” she says. ”The students took considerations of environmental benefit, ease of construction, cost, and future maintenance of their solutions into account, all factors that are critical when designing an environmental solution.”