On Thursday, B. came into the Dragon Coding Club, but indicated he wasn’t going to be able to stay–he was doing a physics experiment. The Dragon Coders were still settling in, chatting and snacking, when a voice down the hall called out something about “experiencing a universe beyond the laws of classical physics”. Of course, at The Dragon it is framed like a quest. So the rest of us came along with B. to the darkened room see the experiment in action.
Physics teacher Ting Wang and his students had set up an after-school extension to the physics class to show a variant of the (amazing) wave-partial duality experiment called “Young’s Double Slit Experiment”. It also happens to have been one of the experiments that essentially overturned human understanding of the nature of light and later of matter; or as a student pointed out, [WAS this a student or a member of the scientific community?] “in classical physics it just shouldn’t do this”. Dragon’s replication was MacGyver’d together with a hair, Scotch tape and a laser pointer aimed at a whiteboard on the far side of the room. A student traced the interference pattern on the whiteboard. (With a bit of trigonometry, this pattern can ultimately be used to measure either the diameter of the hair or the wavelength of the light ). The students, always curious, moved on to discussing some unexpected vertical effects on the beam of light, and to exploring whether there could be marks on the lens or diffraction from a small opening. Everyone was pretty excited and busy speculating about further interesting and sometimes tangential extensions to this experiment (from the strange effects of measurement on light, to philosophical implications of entanglement, etc.)
It struck me that it was an amazing science experience that almost off-handedly touched on the ideas of curiosity, hypothesis and experimentation., seriously engaging with each other about big ideas while bringing experiments down to earth. I was initially going to describe it as “accessible” to the Dragon scholars, but, that is very much the wrong word because “accessible” and “down to earth” still sound too passive. It was really much more about “nurturing the seed” or “lighting the fire” than it was about “filling the vessel”.
I shared the story with my older son, who has done this experiment in grade 12 physics at another great school. In his case it was done in class with some fancy looking lasers and a diffraction grating presumably ordered from some science education store. I understand the experiment was presented as a “sage on stage” and produced no interesting anomaly or exploration. He honestly loved the idea of how much better it would have been to have experienced the $5 dollar laser pointer + hair+ whiteboard version, especially when followed up with the “real” experimental dialog.
As he was facilitating and encouraging the group, I am not sure whether Mr. Wang even noticed the experience as being particularly unique per se; perhaps it’s routine for that class. But I wanted to pass along that it was awesome and highlight it was special in a couple of ways that those of us who have studied and love science really appreciate. In my opinion it was a great example of what, at its best, the Dragon Academy can be.
–A Dragon Father
It’s morning and chatter pulls me from my drowsiness.
Earlier, I woke at dawn, read for a while and drifted back into slumber. But my boy’s voice nattering to himself in the living room pulls me from my bed. He’s packing his school bag, humming and talking to himself. Finally, fully awake, I power up the coffee machine as he thumbs his way through Instagram on his phone.
“Hey! You need to eat. And make your lunch,” I remind him.
“Yeah. Yeah. I know.” His head remains bowed over his screen. Something a friend has sent from across the country has caught his eye. He’s not really in the room.
“I mean it. Breakfast! You need to eat.”
“I got it.” But he stands statically, caught up in his own thoughts.
“I’ll take your phone,” I caution.
Finally, he looks up, walks over to the fridge and opens it to hang on the door. He gazes uncertainly at the shelves.
“There’s ham, cheese. Make sure you take a piece of fruit and a snack.”
“I will. I will. I know what I’m doing.” He scowls at me. I notice him glance at the kitchen clock. He yanks the strap of his lunch cooler off the hook behind him
After pouring his cereal, he shovels spoonfuls into his mouth, splattering milk droplets onto his chin and t-shirt. A few moments later, after he deposits his bowl in the sink, his body paces, retreats and emerges from the fridge, cradling cheese, carrots, cucumber and apples in his arms.
He’s known for “not-hurrying” in our family. And I’ve learned that the more I urge him — and one other family member — the more his motions become slowed and sticky.
A couple of weeks ago, I had to call him endlessly from his bed. He had had two alarms set up; both across the room. Eventually he would clamber to silence them, but threw himself back under his comforter. No matter how early we started, it seemed as though he was always late for the school bell.
Since transferring to the Dragon, he’s up every morning and chattering.
Driving between chores on the weekend, he opines from the back seat before hopping out: “You know, I like school so much these days; I kinda wish we had classes on Saturday.”
At this year’s Secondary Schools United Nations Symposium (SSUNS) Dragon Academy students, Olivia Smith and Ethan Ryckman took home a gavel each for their spectacular performances in their respective crisis committees. Olivia won the Lester B. Pearson award for Peacekeeping in a Katrina crisis simulation (she was Thad Allen) and Ethan won the Pierre Elliot Trudeau award for Diplomatic Finesse as British moderate David Howell in ‘The Troubles’, a crisis simulation about the conflict between the IRA and the British government. Congratulations to all of our delegates, many of whom – if not all – deserve recognition for their amazing dedication and hard work this year. Many thanks to Michael Gyssels for being an incredible faculty advisor, and to Dr. Meg Fox for her continued support as well as to the fine folks over at UTMUN, Ismail Barmania and to Mr.Gideon Hazel Scanlon. Thank you all for your incredible work training and supporting the Dragon delegates this year. Model UN begins again anew in January of 2016.
Dr. Rebecca Roth, a.k.a. Becca, received her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Chemistry from U.C. Berkeley and her doctorate in Organic Chemistry from Harvard University. She has been a teacher of basic and organic chemistry, cooking and Aikido. She has worn many hats, including medicinal chemist, nurse’s aide, elementary school after school creative arts program coordinator and housewife. She has had the privilege of tutoring math and science to several wonderfully unique individuals at the Dragon. She also substitute teaches math and science classes. Her other interests include tossing and being tossed by her partners in Aikido, trying to achieve a good swoosh in Iaido, messing around on the piano and guitar, writing odd songs, singing harmony with anyone who will let her, trimming shrubs, planting flowers and laughing with her four beautiful boys, one of whom attends the Dragon Academy.
Recently, the Student Council has been actively organizing and planning a fantastic year at the Dragon. They have already accomplished a lot this school year, which made everyone wonder, ‘What does the Student Council have planned for the future?’ The group is made up of more than a quarter of the student population. Since it is such a large community, I decided to first speak with President Zachary and Vice President Olivia to find out what they have planned for this fall. Zachary is a long time student council member, getting involved when he was in grade 8. He is in his second term of presidency and a grade 11 scholar. Olivia is also in Grade 11, and is having a great first year at the Dragon.
What does the student council have planned for this year?
Olivia: “Basically, we already completed a bake sale, that went very well. Long-term, a lot those funds are going to go to the production of “Mean Boys” (a reinterpretation of the movie “Mean Girls” with the genders reversed), a play that is very supported by Student Council. Just recently we formed a school spirit committee, which has four members. We are trying to do more school spirit activities to get different forms working together.”
Zachary: “We really want to get involved in student-founded activities, while supporting student clubs that are happening (improv club, lego robotics, film club) and encouraging new clubs that will be formed.”
Why did you get involved with Student Council?
Olivia: “My attitude to coming into a new school was to get right into it. I did not want to be on the edges in the social and academic world. So I just kinda went for it, and it’s working out very well.”
Zachary: “I have been involved for several years and I wanted to become President because I had a distinct idea of what I wanted to do and where The Dragon needed to go.”
What are you learning from Student Council?
Zachary: “I learned a lot about how procedures work and function through student council. It is also a good debate forum, since we do a lot of debating for various motions we want to pass. We also learn about other points of view and how to compromise.”
Olivia: “Basically, it’s just about being able to command an audience and foster a sense of community, within a vibrant forum. Everyone is talking and everyone has an opinion. It’s been a learning curve to kinda learn how to form that into something constructive.”
What are things the student council wants to improve about The Dragon this year?
Olivia: “We want to support the endeavours of the student body, which is something the dragon has always been good at, but we want to take that to another level. Since it is a small school, each student has a big impact. You don’t have room to have students not participating.”
Zachary: “More dialogue between students and teachers when it comes to putting ideas that the students have into action.”
Since you are a student representative of the school, what do you want people to know about the Dragon?
Olivia: “If I was talking to someone who didn’t have any idea about what the Dragon is I would say: It is the first school that I have found that really fits. I think it is a really special environment, you can’t really understand from the outside. Once you get in here and start talking to some people, it is a really special place. The teachers care about the students, and the students respect the teachers. This relationship between the staff and students is incredibly symbiotic, so it really works in harmony since everyone is really invested in each other’s success.”
Zachary: “The Dragon is Awesome!”
It was great to discuss the upcoming year with the President and Vice President. Everyone at the student council works extremely hard throughout the year. They meet every Tuesday at lunch, so if you would like to get involved, drop in. Stay tuned for more interviews from members of the Dragon Community and updates from the Student Council.
-The Dragon Academy
Are you ready for university? Do you need extra or pre-requisite credits? Are you hoping to improve your skills and achievement levels? Dragon Academy offers a unique environment for a winning victory lap. Earn from one to eight Ontario Secondary School grade 12 university preparation credits in small, discussion based classes with expert mentor teachers as part of a close-knit, supportive, academically superior, university-bound community of learners. Dragon’s innovative approach uses the city as school, engaging students in experiential learning, original projects, integration across subject fields, and respects their political and social intelligence. Victory Lap students may enroll in our regularly scheduled, full-year courses, or work one-on-one towards individual credits.
All courses meet the requirements for a full credit set by the Ontario Ministry of Education for the Ontario Secondary School Diploma.
The tuition fee is $2,775 per course.
SCHOOL IS IN THIS SUMMER
Dragon’s unique summer school fosters skills mastery and critical thinking through individualised programming, offering the opportunity to earn an Ontario Secondary School credit through one-on-one or small group tutoring. Improve your understanding and achievement, earn a high school credit (or two) in a supportive, academically enriched environment with expert Dragon teachers. Go out from the classroom to explore the city as school. Courses are available across the curriculum, from arts to technology, at both the academic (grades 9 and 10) and university preparation (grades 11 and 12) levels.
Two sessions: July 7 to August 1, 2014
August 5 to August 29, 2014.
Scheduled from Monday through Friday, 9-3:30 pm,
Open to all students from grades 9 through 12, whether or not they are enrolled at Dragon Academy. All courses meet the requirements for a full credit set by the Ontario Ministry of Education for the Ontario Secondary School Diploma.
The tuition fee is $2,250 per course.
As part of the Roundtable Residency, high school students earn an Ontario Secondary School Credit through work in apprenticeship with a practising artist to master skills, explore context, and create and show their own work in drawing, painting, performance, video, installation, re-enactment, soundscape, found art, graphics, photography, miniaturism, graffiti, integrated media, sculpture.
Roundtable Residency is an annual month-long artists’ residency hosted by Dragon Academy from mid-July to mid-August, providing artists with studio space, a creative community, engagement in discussion and outreach, culminating in a group show open to the general public. Dynamic young artists work across media, creating interactive, immersive, performative and sound-based projects, with reference to the school as creative space. Roundtable Residency provides a unique opportunity for peer collaboration and community development for young and emerging artists. Students will be coached and inspired by working one on one with a mentor artist, documenting process and reflection, towards a culminating project which will find exposure in the exhibit.
The tuition fee is $2,500 plus materials.
All apprenticeships meet the requirements for a full credit set by the Ontario Ministry of Education for the Ontario Secondary School Diploma.