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Left brains, right brains meet

Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 25/05) - Ten-year-old Dennis Foster seems to thrive on the disgust on students' faces as they peer at decomposed pieces of steak float in half-full jars of soda pop.

Grade 5 student Dennis Foster was obviously enthralled with science, as he held up two pieces of once-juicy steak from his project after soaking them in pop to deduce how acid affects the meat. - Lisa Scott/NNSL photo

He's hooked on science and wanted to see how the acid levels in cola or ginger ale compare. "Sometimes history can get pretty boring for some kids. Kids like to touch the steak. In history, you can't touch anything," said the Grade 5 student at N.J. Macpherson school, to explain why he chose a science project over a history topic for a school fair.

His classmate Katrina Tyrrell begged to differ.

"History is one of my favourite subjects and it's what we usually have to learn from," said Tyrrell of her choice to research the daredevils of Niagara Falls.

Teacher Sean Daly gave his Grade 4-5 class a choice when he challenged them to come up with a special project this year. Recognizing that some of his students fall into the logical and analytical mode of thinking often referred to as left brained; and the intuitive, creative form of thinking referred to as right brained, Daly decided to cater to both.

The result was a class split half-and-half between left-and right-brained thinkers. Projects included subjects on everything from the density of funky liquids to Wayne Gretzky.

"It's still a process of inquiring minds trying to find an answer," he said.

"The end result is a little more diversity in what happens in the classroom."

Daly even witnessed some integration between the subjects, with some students telling a story with their science projects, while those who leaned toward history using almost a scientific process to research their topics.

"It's an experiment. Can they work at the same time? I think they can," said Daly.

Students aren't missing out on any science or history learning because of their choice, assures Daly. The year-long curriculum includes modules for both subjects.

The next stop for the students will be the Yellowknife Regional Learning Fair, April 9, where history and science will join together again.

See more photos on page 19