STU professor helps middle schoolers take aim at academic journal

Three 11-year-old boys are experiencing fame for the first time, and it’s all in the name of science…or elastic bands.

(MacKenzie Riley/ AQ)
(MacKenzie Riley/ AQ)

Recently, their experiment has been bringing them a lot of attention, and thanks to their sixth grade teacher, Chris Abbandonato, their findings will be submitted for publishing.

Abbandonato, “Mr. A” to his Grade 6 students, teaches math and science at St. Thomas University and calculus at UNB as well.

“We give the kids the chance to be a junior scientist now instead of being just a student taking science,” said Abbandonato. “They like that because they feel like they are actually contributing to science and doing things that scientists would do.”

The students from Nashwaakis Middle School in Fredericton started this experiment back in May. They wanted to figure out if the thickness or elasticity would effect how far the elastic bands would travel when you fling them. And so began what would be titled “The Secret Behind Flinging Rubber Bands”.

They looked at if the elasticity depended on how far it travels and how fast it is in the air, and why. They also looked to see if the height of the child made a difference on the distance.

“Mr. A taught us that it’s not just about blowing things up, it’s about doing other experiments and having fun,” said sixth-grader Connor LeBlanc.

Ever since Malcolm Christie was little, he has been interested in science.

“When Mr. A came and picked me and my two best friends, I just thought this is a golden opportunity to try some cool experiments.”

Christie said he has loved the fame, noting other news organizations he had talked to.

For Abbandonato, the juggling act of working at three different schools at once is worth it.

“I find the time. I enjoy it because it’s rewarding to be a teacher and a university professor. And I do keep the collaboration with the kids and the students at the university level, which is great.”

Dr. Grant Williams from the education department at St. Thomas has been working with Abbandonato and the three middle school children on the elastic band project. He is editing the paper to be submitted to the National Science Teachers Association.

Abbandonato said he loves secience, and wanted to give students a chance to explore it as well.

“What I wanted to do when I came to this school was really to be able to incorporate the interests of science and math because the kids all love it, but how do you take it further now?” said Abbandonato.

LeBlanc said when he grows up he wants to be a hockey player. But if that doesn’t work out, he would like to be a scientist or an engineer.

When asked if he would want to stay involved with science clubs in high school, LeBlanc said he does.

“But hopefully it stays as fun as it is now.”

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