Tag Archives: Biology

Ridleian Explores Arctic on Extraordinary Expedition

Fresh on the heels of being named a 2017-18 Ridley Prefect, environmental intrepid, Jack Hilditch ’18 set out on a unique arctic expedition with Students on Ice. Having been selected from a competitive pool of applicants, this Ridleian was invited to embark upon this once-in-a-lifetime experience, where he had an opportunity to learn about the remote culture, the environment and the effects of climate change.

Jack first donned a Ridley uniform in Grade 2 and has since spent his many years on campus discovering his passion, sense of curiosity and striving to make a difference – both in our community and beyond.

“My journey at Ridley has been filled with amazing people, opportunities and personal growth,” says Jack. “I can confidently say that countless exciting opportunities at Ridley have shaped who I am today. I have learned so much about myself and the world around me throughout my journey at Ridley,” he added. Beyond Ridley, Jack has also learned much about the world around him through his early exposure to ecological restoration, environmental planning, impact assessments, as he has followed in his father’s footsteps and has even taken on an internship as Environmental Consultant.

Last year, while travelling with his father to an environmental conference, Jack was introduced to an organization called Students on Ice. He instantly became intrigued by one of its programmes, which allows students from around the world to explore the Polar Regions and learn from leading scientists, politicians and those directly impacted by climate change in the Arctic. With support from his family and his IB Biology teacher, Ms. Kathy Anderson, Jack applied to join the programme and was ecstatic to find out he had been accepted.

Alongside 100 youth, Jack departed for the Arctic expedition in
August 2017. The group’s journey started in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, where the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Chris Ballard, announced the opening of a new National Park. For the next
two weeks, Jack and his peers travelled to regions in the Canadian
Arctic and made their way to Greenland. View their journey. Each location offered a rare adventure; whether it was kayaking in the chilly blue waters, hiking a glacier, cruising through channels or observing wildlife.

Credit: https://studentsonice.com

About the group’s daily activities while en route to amazing locals, Jack shared that, “In between each stop, our time on the ship was filled with so many workshops led by leading scientists, Inuit elders, politicians and so many different people. Some of the workshops included studying Arctic life under a microscope, throat singing, writing songs, absorbing lectures by leading scientists and engaging in talks about mental health. These activities changed every day, allowing us to explore a diversity of interests.”


Aside from the amazing activities and workshops, Jack described his favourite part of the trip as getting to know his peers and having the chance to engage with the experts. The Students on Ice group that Jack was a part of consisted of students from Micronesia, Malaysia, India, Mexico, Monaco and many more. Coming from a diverse community like Ridley, Jack was naturally interested in the diverse cultures, stories and experiences that each member of the global group was able to share.

Upon his return to St. Catharines, Jack was able to reflect on what he learned on his voyage. The devastating effects of climate change and the importance of cultural awareness were topics that permeated the entire trip and left the participants inspired to contribute to a solution.

“Not many people get to experience and observe the climate crisis in the Arctic first hand… After meeting many Inuit families on this expedition that were directly impacted by climate changed I have realized the importance and urgency of tackling such a significant global issue… This isn’t something that will only threaten this generation and the next, but it will pose many challenges for generations to come. It is our responsibility to act as a unified people to combat climate change as it is something that doesn’t affect one group of people, but all of us. Not only did we hear about climate change within the Arctic, but we also heard from students in Palau, Micronesia who are also experiencing climate change. They talked about how flooding has become very prevalent within many of their communities. Being able to experience this very evident crisis first hand was enlightening and inspiring. While we may think, we are not directly impacted, we all are,” urges Jack.

Although his trip has concluded, his journey as an ambassador for change isn’t. This inspiring student plans to share his story and the story of those he met along the way to spread awareness of the effects of climate change and inspire others to take action.

Experiential Learning Away from Home

Ridley students participated in three experiential learning trips over the March Break: a South African science adventure, Vimy 100, a history trip commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and our Ridley rowing crews hit the shores of Vancouver Island for pre-season training.

In South Africa, students had the opportunity to learn about and contribute to ongoing field research. They visited the Balule Game Reserve, where our young scientists participated in lectures and collected data on insects, herbivores, and birds—they even experienced a mock-charge by an elephant. The second week was spent at Sodwana Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with scuba diving—five students earned their PADI open water certification—reef ecology lectures, snorkeling, rock pool tours, dune walks, and a surprise visit from some local Zulu dancers. View photos.

North of the equator, Ridley students had a chance to relive history as they toured the many historic sites from both World Wars in France and Belgium. They visited the Vimy Memorial—which is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the WWI battle, Passchendaele—where they experienced a recreation of a WWI battlefield, and Juno Beach—the site of Canada’s D-Day Landing in WWII. Other stops included Ypres, the Menin Gate, Dieppe, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Napoleon’s Tomb. The group visited the graves or memorials for nine Old Ridleians, who died fighting in the two World Wars.

“It was a moving, rewarding, and emotional trip” – Mrs. Linda Chang, Ridley Parent

Leaving behind the thawing Royal Henley course in Port Dalhousie, our competitive rowing crews spent part of their March  break practicing on Canada’s West Coast, at Shawnigan Lake School. The trip focused on team-building and technical development. Ridley crews rowed through snow during one training session, while (before another in Victoria) they enjoyed a visit from a group of seals. Ample time on the water and competition with rowers from the University of Victoria, Victoria City Rowing Club, and the Canadian National Team, have our crews ready for upcoming spring regattas.

Our Ridleians showed how dedicated they are, using their March break–a time for rest and relaxation–to better themselves, better their team and better the environment. There is no doubt that these students returned home with stories to tell and memories that they will carry with them.


Lower School students fuse their passion with science

On January 29th, 32 Grade 7 students eagerly lined the halls of Lower School, ready to showcase their scientific reasoning. For the past three months, these students have been exploring self-assigned hypotheses and investigating possible conclusions for the 9th annual Lower School Science Fair


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For nearly a decade, the Lower School Science Fair has encouraged young Ridleians to discover their interests and fuse them with science. Students aren’t assigned an area of study, but instead, are asked to find a topic that they are genuinely curious about. Using the online application, Science Buddies, each student answers a number of questions, rating their level of interest for everything from microbiology to psychology and even the television shows they enjoy watching. Upon completing the online application the students is then provided a list of possible science projects and topics to consider, each one relating to a topic or field that he or she enjoys. This not only creates a broad spectrum of science experiments, but also motivates the students to challenge themselves and make discoveries of their own.

According to Mr. Ben Smith, Pure and Applied Sciences Subject Coordinator and Lower School Science and Math Teacher, the main goal of the science project is not to be proven correct in their findings, but to propose a question and provide a reliable answer. “It’s just as important to fail as it is to be proven right,” says Mr. Smith.

In 2014, Jaden Kidd ’19 had a theory that bioluminescent algae, if placed in mason jars, could provide an alternative to electricity in countries with limited access. Despite his hypothesis being proven incorrect and the algae not producing the expected results, he went on to receive the Biology Award at the Niagara Regional Science and Engineering Fair – success is achieved through the findings and the knowledge that accompanies it rather than a proven theory.

For the past three months, the students worked in class to complete their projects, with the help of Mr. Smith. Students began with their hypotheses, predicting the conclusions of their experiments, and then proceeded with their studies. On the day of the Science Fair, after three months of hard work, these Ridleians presented their findings to curious members of the community.

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This year, judges, parents and the staff of Ridley College were blown away by the projects that our Grade 7 students produced. The students dove into the project, showcasing research that spanned a wide range of topics. Some students focused on chemistry, while others focused on the human brain. Some discovered their experiment was a success, others did not have the same outcome. Despite the results, each student was left feeling proud of their work and many intended to continue their research out of pure curiosity.

We are proud to announce this year’s winners:

First Place: Syni Solanki  – Graphene and Water Desalination

Second Place: Sakura Telfer – The Science of Spherification

Third Place: Spencer McLean – Video Game for the Blind


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These three students, along with our runner ups (Olivia Grubic; Memory Recall, Jacob Lytle; Sunflower Pith Water Filtration, and Ciara Blew; Margarine vs. Butter), will apply to represent Ridley at this year’s Niagara Regional Science and Engineering Fair.

Congratulations to all Grade 7 students, who not only challenged themselves, but also discovered their own personal passions.