BrainSTEM Alliance


High River READesign – Nov 2018 – Session 3 & 4

Our final two sessions for this edition of READesign at the High River Library saw our participants design, build, and test devices for slowing the fall / decreasing the impact of a fall for their action figure (designed and 3D printed from our 2nd session class).

Joe Hardy exits the stolen airplane in our novel without a parachute, and has to carefully consider anything from increasing his ‘drag’ or wind resistance by spreading out his arms and legs to increase surface area to slow his fall, to looking for softer surfaces to land on to decrease his impact on landing! Frank skydives to his rescue with a parachute in the book, but we wanted to see if we could increase the time in the air for our action figures by slowing their descent and reducing their impact on the ground!

Before testing our devices, we tried the test rig out by dropping heavier action figures from different heights into a pan of jello, to explore the distance they fell into the pan vs. height dropped from and talked about momentum and energy.


Jorge and Vance building their devices


Vance choosing materials for his device


Setting up to drop the ‘Hardy Boy’ action figure and fall-delay device for testing


Making some adjustments


BrainSTEM Volunteer Jen setting up our test rig again for another test

After the testing, we tried an experiment where we made microwave meringue ‘clouds’ for snack. Unfortunately an experiment using a water bottle to suck egg yolk from our cracked egg broke the yolk, and we didn’t have a replacement….so, what can you do? We continued with the recipe using yolk AND white, and it turned out a little different than expected – though still quite yummy!


Making meringue clouds!

Our final session of READesign was completed with a wrap up building a motorized paper airplane kit from PowerUp toys, discussing airplane components on a Remote Control airplane, and programming the Library’s Sphero robots for some more maze-busting fun.


Thank you to our amazing volunteers and participants for this session!

High River READesign – Nov 2018 – Session 2

The 2nd Session of our Fall 2018 READesign program at the High River Library was a lot of fun!

Sphero robots and programming were where we began the afternoon, with the challenge from the first 4 chapters of “In Plane Sight” by Franklin W. Dixon to navigate along the ‘last known heading’ for the stolen airplane using polar coordinates with reference to true north!

Vance and our volunteer Jen had a great time trying to get the library’s Sphero robots to follow the plane through our ‘flight path’ complete with large trees, mountains, clouds, ‘runway beacons’ and … a tunnel. Driving the robots manually worked fairly well, and then we moved on to programming using both the Draw and Block functions of the Sphero Edu App. A few iterations later, Vance had programmed his way through the course (with a few minor setbacks, of course)!

For the second part of the afternoon session, we headed over to the computers and logged in to TinkerCAD (a free 3D CAD program from AutoDesk) and started designing our action figure that will be used to complete the challenge next week. Students should read to at least the end of Chapter 8 to guess the challenge based on problems the Hardy Boys face in these chapters for the next session.

Here’s a preview of one of the designs printing prototype #1…

Vances Cool Guy.jpg

See you next week!

High River READesign – Nov 2018 – Session #1

We’re Back!

Welcome to the Fall 2018 Program run of Project READesign at the High River Library!

We are busy reading a fantastic old-school mystery novel, “In Plane Sight” by Franklin W. Dixon (which is really a pseudonym for several different authors who together wrote the Hardy Boys novels, of which this is #176). Students were asked to read to p.43 (end of chapter 4) to guess which problem the Hardy Boys would need to solve during next week’s challenge on November 10!

We had a small turnout for our first session on Saturday, November 3, but that just means more time for us to spend perfecting designs and having fun testing!

Students got their feet wet by learning about engineering, what an engineer does, and the engineering design process first hand – by brainstorming the solution to a problem encountered by everyone’s favorite food & nap – loving feline.


With our aviation theme, the next step was putting these newfound Engineering skills to work designing some aircraft for specific tasks:

  1. Longest flight time
  2. Furthest distance flown
  3. Most loop-de-loops

See you next week for some programming fun with the Library’s Sphero robots, and 3D CAD designing action figures to print in plastic for our 3rd session’s challenge!

Fall 2018 – READesign High River Program

BrainSTEM Alliance is excited to bring another READesign session to the High River Library this fall!

November 3, 10, 17, and 24, 2018 from 1-3PM at the Library, students ages 10-14 years are invited to join us to build devices to help characters in our novel, “Hardy Boys #176 – In Plane Sight” by Franklin W. Dixon, through some high flying adventures!

Along the way we will be exploring concepts relating to the science of flight, exploring 3D design and 3D printing, and learning how to build with a variety of building materials.

Call the High River Library at 403-652-2917 to register today!

A fee of $50 per participant must be paid to the Library in order to participate. Ask about the Community Access Program for discounts from the Town of High River for community programs.


In Plane Sight cover

2018 WBRL READesign Challenge – Fort Chipewyan

On July 9th, 2018, members of BrainSTEM Alliance joined the WBRL rural services team on a flight up to Fort Chipewyan to host the READesign program with the Athabasca Delta Community School. There were 13 students, 6 boys and 7 girls, ages 5-12, that took place in the program, reading books and designing engineering solutions for the characters.


Community Code Day – Arts and Culture

On May 26th and 27th, 2018, BrainSTEM Alliance partnered with Youth Computing and the Wood Buffalo Regional Innovation Network to host Fort McMurray’s first ever community hackathon and technology conference at Keyano College, called Community Code Day. The event was a huge success with over 100 participants, 8 hackathon teams, and over 12 hours of speakers and free workshop sessions open to the public. A highlight video from the event can be found on YouTube here: Community Code Day Highlight Video. Filmed and edited by Slone McGowan.


FMBGC EnviroSTEM program

On Friday June 8th, we joined the Fort McMurray Boys and Girls Club for a day at the park. We did environmental and sustainability related activities. Students from the Summer Aboriginal Student program at Suncor Energy joined us and helped teach the students about local plants with a scavenger hunt through the park, and we made solar ovens to teach about sustainable energy!