sci_tech.jpg (20951 bytes) Putting Technology and Science Together

The new curriculum pushes it – this new school helps teachers and students alike enjoy making the connections between technology and science.

By Rosemarie Bahr

In an era when schools are closing design and technology labs, the new North Kipling Junior Middle School has gone in the other direction, linking the new design and technology lab to a science lab in an arrangement that has raised interest across the province.

Principal Sue Stephenson says that when the Toronto board saw the new science and technology curriculum as they were building the new school, they decided to change the plan and put the science and technology rooms beside each other, with a small combined television studio and computer lab in the middle, accessible from both sides. The doors between the rooms stand open and students and teachers pass through often.

Marilyn Orszulik is the new school’s design and technology teacher. She and the science teacher sometimes team- teach science. One teacher can plan, organize and set up hands-on activities while the other is teaching, or both can supervise large classes during lab experiments. At other times the classes are split, with half in each room or with some in the computer room.

Today Orszulik is helping a Grade 8 class finish up a project that involves designing and building a toy incorporating hydraulics. Most of the students work in pairs. The toys are in varying stages of completion, some getting their last coats of paint, others getting the bugs worked out. One group decides its truck needs bigger wheels. Another designer is working at making the opening for her robot’s cupid-bow lips, already painted bright red, big enough so that the lips can move in and out.

As Orszulik points out, not every student is working on hydraulics. She indicates one student, who is finishing a rocking horse. "She spoke no English at all four months ago," Orszulik says.


"The kids really enjoy working on their projects and they learn a lot more," says Orszulik. So many opportunities for jobs that involve technology exist, she explains, that the earlier kids are introduced to it, the better.

Orszulik attended Ryerson and was a designer before becoming a teacher. She was attracted to the new school because of the hands-on program. She and the science teacher were also able to advise on the layout and outfitting of the labs. Orszulik is enthusiastic about being part of the school, even if the electrical outlets in her lab weren’t installed until December.

The lab has basic woodworking equipment and power and hand tools. Since all the 850 students in the school come from four neighbouring apartment buildings, this is probably the only access they have to a workshop.

All the classrooms, including the science and technology labs, have windows that overlook a park and ravine. From this side of the school, the only human habitation to be seen is a few rooftops in the far distance. The other side, by contrast, faces a major traffic artery in northwest Toronto. On this side is a fenced-in play area attached directly to the school building – the school has 10 kindergarten classes and five Grade ones. There are also basketball courts, which are not fenced off from the park that surrounds the school and the attached community centre. At night, says Stephenson, people from the neighbourhood apartments make full use of the park.

This area of Toronto is dense with apartment buildings, and schools stretch in a line along Kipling Avenue. The new North Kipling Junior Middle School relieves some of the overcrowding.


North Kipling is completely wired, with a computer lab of iMacs (besides the small lab in the TV studio), iMacs in the library and e-mail in the classrooms. Students get their morning announcements on a TV set in their classroom, broadcast from the TV studio that sits between the design and technology and science labs. Students put together the morning news themselves. "It’s YNN without the commercials," says Stephenson. Students used the video camera to tape events at a recent play day, edited the tape and produced a short item for the morning news.

A pamphlet on the new school talks about how technology can transform a school. The first purpose listed is "to establish a high level of student and staff enthusiasm for technology."

Judging from the finished model adventure playgrounds done by the Grade 7 students and displayed in the school’s front hall and from the enthusiastic activity the Grade 8 students exhibit as they work in the design and technology lab, North Kipling Junior Middle School is well on its way to achieving its purpose.

New school to host DTTO conference "You still build boxes but now you want a birdhouse that will walk, talk and sing," says George Heighington, a design and technology teacher at East York Collegiate in Toronto and editor of the Design and Technology Teachers of Ontario (DTTO) Bulletin. "It’s important for people to have an understanding of electronics, mechanics, hydraulics, pneumatics and design, and problem solving and machine applications," he says. That’s why the DTTO is working to encourage applied technical literacy, bringing more math and science into the technical areas.

The DTTO is holding the Applied Technical Literacy "Tech/Sci" Conference at the new North Kipling Junior Middle School in Toronto on Saturday morning, September 30. Emphasis will be on applied technology – K-Grade 8, using the science and technology curriculum and integrated technologies for Grades 9 and 10.

For information, visit the DTTO web site at :

When North Kipling Junior Middle School was being built, the school board decided to set up their science lab and design and technology lab next door to each other. The plan has enhanced student learning in both subject areas and raised interest across the province.