Ideas in Motion: Experiential Learning at Ottawa Technical Secondary School

Ideas in Motion: Experiential Learning at Ottawa Technical Secondary School
Posted on 06/21/2023
Ideas in Motion: Experiential Learning at Ottawa Technical Secondary School

At Ottawa Technical Secondary School, students took part in two innovative experiential learning projects supported by the District’s Innovation and Adolescent Learning Department. From building soapbox cars to collaborating on dance films, see how students participated in hands-on learning this semester!

Accelerating Skills with Soapbox Cars
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In the grade 10 Autobody/Auto Manufacturing course, students engaged in a semester-long project to construct a soapbox car – a motorless vehicle designed for downhill racing. 

Under the guidance of teacher Henry Byrne, students applied their metal fabrication and welding skills to transform 1-inch square tubing into frames for their car. They also repurposed parts from the school’s former shop car to create systems for steering, braking, seating, and more.

The school invited Abe Headley – a former NASCAR engineer who now works in electrical vehicle product development, to work with the class for a day. Abe shared industry knowledge that helped students better prototype and test the parts they were building. Now, the students are getting ready to put their car to the test this June!


“The students are very proud of their accomplishments and the products they are building. I feel this is a wonderful project that engages students with varying learning styles and abilities.” – Henry Byrne, Teacher

Bringing Dance Films to the Big Screen


This year, Ottawa Technical Secondary School partnered with the Earl of March Dance Program to produce a screening of student-made dance videos. For this collaborative project, students in Ottawa Tech’s Information and Communications Technology Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program created short films capturing performances choreographed by the Earl of March Dance students.
The students approached this project as if it were a genuine industry video shoot, incorporating concept interviews, location scouting, equipment, and role inventory while carrying out each video shoot with professionalism. They completed a workshop about screen-dance with an expert in the field and used this knowledge, along with industry-standard production documents, to guide their experiential learning. 

They worked collaboratively to complete their screen dance videos and showcased them along with a collection of short videos, animations, and experimental films produced by the Ottawa Technical Secondary School students throughout the year. The school rented a local movie theatre so that students could share the films with friends and family. The 1.5 hour showing ended with a standing ovation!


“The event was beyond expectations, and was such a good opportunity to celebrate the students. It was really nice to see the students supporting each other at the theatre and cheering their friends on.” –  Adrianna Sustar, teacher

“I liked that we treated this project like it was a professional shoot. It was cool to learn about working on a set, and I feel like the skills I learned on this project are going to help me feel more comfortable when I start working in the industry.” - Justin C., student

SHSM program, part of the Innovation and Learning Department, enables students to explore a career path that matches their skills, interests and talents while earning a Specialist Ontario Secondary School Diploma.
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