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Activity Book 4: Secondary Level

Best suited for ages 16 +

Quiz on science and innovation in agriculture

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Question 1

In the 1920s, a Canadian came up with a really COOL idea. What was it?

  1. Ice cream
  2. Refrigerator
  3. Frozen foods

Question 2

Which of these products contain corn or corn by-products?

  1. Ethanol and spark plugs
  2. Toothpaste and shampoo
  3. All of the above

Question 3

What do sheep and baseballs have in common?

  1. It takes a herd of 140 sheep to eat or mow the grass before each baseball game
  2. There is wool at the core of a baseball
  3. The pitcher must wear a wool cardigan to keep his pitching arm warm

Question 4

How many times does the average cow burp in a day?

  1. 2
  2. 1,000
  3. 123,000

Question 5

How many of the 10,000 products found in a supermarket come from corn?

  1. 500
  2. 2,500
  3. 5,000

Answer Key

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Tidal times

Fisheries and Oceans Canada


To study the daily movements of tides.


  • several coloured flags on poles
  • watch
  • graph paper
  • pencil


Measuring how fast the tide comes in and the height of the incoming tide during different hourly intervals of the day.


In most regions of Atlantic Canada there are two high and two low tides each day. Some places have only one tide. These activities can be done as part of a field trip.

Nova Scotia
Bay St. Lawrence 0.8 1.2
Margaree 0.7 1.1
Port Hood 0.9 1.3
Antigonish Harbour 1 1.6
Pictou 1.2 2
Cape Cliff 1.7 2.6
New Brunswick
Cape Tormentine 1.3 2
Shediac bay 0.8 1.6
Pt. Sapin 0.9 1.4
Portage Island 1.1 1.6
Lower Neguac 1 1.6
Shippagan 1.5 2.1
Bathurst 1.6 2.3
Dalhousie 2 3
Prince Edward Island
Souris 1.1 1.7
Charlottetown 1.8 2.9
Borden 1.6 2.5
Summerside 1.5 2.2
Miminegash 0.8 1.2
Malpeque 0.8 1.1
North Lake 0.7 11

Spring Tide Figures for certain regions:

South shore of Nova Scotia

  • Halifax Harbour: 2.2
  • St. Margarets Bay: 2.1
  • Shelburne: 2.4
  • Cape Sable: 3.3
  • Yarmouth: 4.3

Bay of Fundy

  • Brier Island: 5.8
  • St. John: 9.0
  • Cobequid Bay: 15.3
  • Cumberland Basin: 14.0


Obtain tidal charts from your local newspaper. Tide tables can also be purchased from your local Fisheries and Oceans office, bookstores, your provincial Geographic Information Centre, or the Canadian Hydrographic Service in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

Familiarize yourself with the charts. Try to pick a day for your trip when you arrive at a high tide or at least at ebb tide.

Experiment I

  1. When you arrive on site, put a flag at the water's edge. Record the time.
  2. Every hour, mark the position of the water with a flag of a different colour and record the time the flag was placed.
  3. Measure the distance between each flag. At the end of the field trip you will be able to determine how fast the tide was moving at different times of the day.
  4. When you get home you can graph the results.

Experiment II

Check the tidal range chart above and mark a stick in intervals for measuring the height of the incoming tide.

  1. Label these intervals on the stick clearly so they can be seen from far away.
  2. Drive the stick down into a crevice in the rock or in the sand close to the water line.

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Do you have big feet?

Statistics Canada

Let's ask this in a nicer way:

Does foot size increase with height and do boys have bigger feet than girls?

Let's use some data from Census at School to find out. On page 2, there is a table using data on height, foot size and gender. These data were taken from 60 randomly selected student records in the UK database.

  • Draw a scatter graph with the X axis representing foot length and the Y axis showing height. (X scale from 14 to 30 , Y scale from 110 to 190)
  • Mark boys and girls with different symbols or in different colours on your graph.
  • Don't forget to give a title to the graph and label the axes and add a key.


Do you have big feet?

After admiring your handiwork try looking carefully at your graph and write a few conclusions.

  1. Can you identify any students who have particularly big or small feet for their height?
  2. Are there differences between boys and girls? What are they?
  3. Do the taller students have bigger feet?
  4. Is there positive, negative or no correlation?
  5. Can you draw in a line of best fit
  6. Think of some questions of your own to ask as well.
60 randomly selected student records
Pupil no. Gender Height (cm) Foot (cm)
1 F 160 25
2 M 111 15
3 F 160 23
4 F 152 23.5
5 F 146 24
6 F 157 24
7 M 136 21
8 F 143 23
9 M 147 20
10 M 133 20
11 F 153 25
12 M 148 23
13 M 125 20
14 F 150 20
15 M 183 28
16 M 184 25
17 M 125 18
18 F 140 20
19 M 170 27.5
20 F 168 25.5
21 M 131 23
22 M 149 23
23 F 156 21
24 F 130 19.5
25 F 142 22
26 F 159 24
27 F 145 21.5
28 F 162 25
29 M 149 22
30 F 169 24.5
31 M 126 20
32 M 150 24
33 M 170 26
34 F 141 21
35 F 123 20
36 F 122 19
37 M 125 20
38 F 133 20
39 M 165 25
40 F 131 20
41 F 134 17
42 M 158 25
43 F 170 25
44 F 125 15
45 F 135 21
46 F 138 19
47 M 134 20.5
48 M 145 22
49 F 171 25
50 F 181 24
51 F 139 19.5
52 M 147 25
53 M 134 19
54 F 164 24
55 M 127 19.5
56 F 138 23
57 M 180 24
58 M 159 26
59 F 151 23.5
60 M 165 29

How does this data compare with your own class data?

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Where does the time go?

Statistics Canada

At the end of the day, we often wonder where the time went. Time flies by quickly... especially when we're on vacation!

Examine the data on time use for various activities that were collected in the Census at School survey of 2006/2007 (question #17 of the Grade 9 to 12 questionnaire.)

Using Canadian results of the survey, retrieve a large random sample of responses. First, go to and select Data and results from the left sidebar. Under the heading International results and random data selector, click on random data selector. At the bottom of the next screen, click on Choose data, select Canada and then Phase Four Secondary (06/07).

Work in teams to:

  1. determine the activity on which Canadian students spend the most time in a week. How can you justify your answer and defend it to your 'fellow statisticians'?
  2. determine which activity is the most popular, that is, the one the most students participate in. Is this the same activity as the one on which Canadian students spend the most time in a week, identified in a)?
  3. determine the activity on which Canadian students spend the least amount of time in a week. How did you arrive at this answer? Can you justify it and convince your team-mates?
  4. determine which activity is the least popular. Is this also the one on which Canadian students spend the least amount of time in a week?

Compare your conclusions with those of the other teams in your class. If you don't agree with their findings, explain why. Try to arrive at some common conclusions.

Is there still time to watch TV?

With everything else that takes up time during the week, how much is left to watch television? How would you go about evaluating how much time Canadian students spend, on average, in front of the television? What steps would you take to do this? Why?

Using your approach, on average, how much time a week would you say Canadian students spend watching TV? What percentage of total leisure time does this represent? Can you be sure? Explain your reasoning. Then, compare your analysis with that of the other teams.

How do working students spend their time?

People often say that students with jobs are so busy that they don't have the time to study or to help out around the house. Are these statements really justified?

Analyse the activities of the group of students who work seven hours or more a week by answering the following questions:

  1. What percentage of the Canadian total does this group of students represent?
  2. If you compare their use of time with that of the rest of the Canadian students, what activities have they apparently given up?
  3. What proportion of students who work seven hours or more plan on continuing their education? Is this the same percentage as for those who work less than seven hours?
  4. Do you notice a difference in the answers to questions 2) and 3) depending on the kind of work involved (paid or volunteer)?
  5. Summarize your findings on the effects of working on students.

Whiz quiz: Can you answer these questions?

In a given week:

  • How many hours did at least 50% of students spend with their friends? _______ hours or more.
  • How many hours did fewer than 25% of students spend reading? At least ______ hours.
  • How many hours did more than 75% of students spend doing their homework? Fewer than______ hours.
  • What proportion of the students spent more than three hours on housework? ______%.

Note: This activity uses a random sample of Canadian results from the 2006/2007 Census at School survey. The question on time use was not included in more recent questionnaires, so you cannot use your class data for this activity

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Math = games?

Statistics Canada

Are math lovers more likely to be fond of games?

Math lovers often say that solving a math problem is a lot like a game: you're faced with a challenge and you have to think up a strategy to deal with it . . . and it's as much fun looking for the answer as finding it!

To answer this question, we can analyze Census at School data pertaining to the time students spend playing video or computer games and board or card games. (See question #17 of the 2006/2007 Grade 9 to 12 questionnaire at under "Survey Questions")

We will comparethe time spent during one week playing such games:

  • by respondents who report that math is their favourite subject
  • by those with another favourite subject


Using Canadian data from the 2006/2007 Census at School survey, draw up a large random sample of 200 students. Visit, click on Data and results and under "International results and random data selector", click on "random data selector". At thebottom of the next screen, click on "Choose data", select "Canada" and then "Phase Four Secondary (06/07)".

Then sort the dataset by age to select a sample of students of the same age. Split the sample into two groups: students who declare that math is their favourite subject and students who prefer another subject.

For each group:

  • Begin by calculating the mean time spent playing games. (Include video or computer games and board or card games.)
  • Then examine the distribution of time spent playing games by creating a histogram.
    • How do you decide on the size of the histogram's classes or groups?
    • What extra information about the mean time does the histogram provide?
  • Determine the different quartiles.
  • Calculate the standard deviation of time spent playing games.

What relationships can you establish:

  • Between the histogram and the quartiles?
  • Between the histogram and the standard deviation?

Further questions

  • Do you observe a significant difference between the two groups? Can the differences between the groups (for mean time, quartiles, standard deviation and histogram) solely be attributed to randomness?
  • Does the difference appear to be greater for one of the two game categories (video and computer games or board and card games)?

Can you conclude that:

  • Those who like math play games more often?
  • Those who like math may be more likely to play games than those who don't?
  • Playing games can lead to liking math?

Explain your reasoning for each of these hypotheses.

Note: This activity uses a random sample of Canadian results from the 2006/2007 Census at School survey. The question on time use was not included in more recent questionnaires, so you cannot use your class data for this activity.

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Human reaction time

National Research Council Canada

During a space flight, astronauts are required to be able to respond quickly to any given situation. Unexpected problems may arise that require a rapid response to the problem. The faster the reaction time of an astronaut and the crew, the better chance they will have in dealing with a given situation.


  • To measure and record reaction time to a variety of activities
  • To demonstrate the importance of physical fitness for space explorers

Materials and Equipment:

  • Stopwatch or watch with second hand
  • Pencil, paper, ruler


  1. Work with a partner for the activity. Each person needs to make a recording sheet.
  2. On a sheet of paper, draw a square 12 cm by 12 cm. Draw 12 boxes inside the square. Mark these boxes in the middle with the numbers from 1 - 12 but do not put them in order!
  3. Get ready to start timing your partner. Don't let your partner see the sheet before you start the experiment.
  4. Your partner places index finger on square marked #1 and touches each square in numerical order.
  5. Record the time. Then do the activity again but this time, have your partner touch the squares in reverse order. Record the time again. Do this several times and see what happens to your time.
  6. Reverse the roles and record the results.
  7. Do the activity or 2 or 3 days in a row to see if your reaction time improves.
  8. Make up your own activity and challenge your partner. Compare the results using non-standard symbols or the letters of the alphabet. Devise a different system which is faster than numbers.
  9. Create a series of graphs and charts to show the improvements by class members over time.


Record your results in your Scientific Journal.


10 seconds = slow

9 seconds = average

7 seconds = very good

5 seconds = excellent


  1. How do these activities relate to living and working in space?
  2. Why would it be important to be quick and steady for space experiments?
  3. What happens to your time after you have done the exercise several times? Why?

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Gaining height

National Research Council Canada

It is possible to record changes in our height due to the lack of gravity without ever leaving Earth! When we lie down to sleep, our spine does not have to support the weight of our body. This allows the soft tissue between and around our vertebrae to expand. This actually means that people are taller in the morning than in the evening! These changes can be seen more in people under 20 years old because the tissue around the spine is more flexible than in older people.

One of the effects of working in a microgravity environment is the fact that because there is no gravity pulling them down, astronauts tend to "grow" several centimetres while in space. This effect is lost when they return to Earth.


  • To demonstrate the effect of gravity on your body

Materials and Equipment:

  • tape measure
  • pencil

Note: some parts to be completed at home


  1. First thing in the morning (as soon as you get up!!), take your measurements: height, neck span, waist, around calf, around ankle, etc. Ask someone at home to help you with this.
  2. Record the results in your Scientific Journal.
  3. Take the same measurements at noon, at 18:00 hr and before going to bed and record the measurements.


  • 7:00 hr measurements:
    12:00 hr measurements:
    18:00 hr measurements:
    21:00 hr measurements
  • Record your measurements and create a chart or graph to indicate the differences.
  • Compare results with other class members.
  • Record your conclusions in your Scientific Journal.


  1. What does this demonstrate?
  2. What differences are there for people of different heights?
  3. What kind of research could scientists conduct on the Space Station using this information?

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Microgravity on earth

National Research Council Canada

Everywhere in our universe, we feel the pull of gravity. When astronauts go into space, they experience "weightlessness" and everything falls freely at the same rate. People appear to have no weight because there is nothing in the way to stop their fall. The zero-gravity that astronauts experience inside the Space Shuttle is not really zero-gravity at all. Zero-gravity implies that the gravitational pull in space is zero. This is not the case.

Astronauts "float" in space because they are in a state of free fall produced by their orbital motions around Earth. Astronauts and their spacecraft are falling together. This condition is sometimes called "weightlessness" because a bathroom scale inside the Shuttle would not record any weight for an astronaut standing on it. The scale would be falling as well. The more accurate term is microgravity, since astronauts and the spacecraft do make a small gravitational attraction for each other.


  • To simulate "weightlessness" by performing a freefall demonstration

Materials and Equipment:

  • Styrofoam cup
  • pencil or other pointed object
  • water
  • bucket or other object to catch the water


  1. Punch a small hole in the side of a Styrofoam cup near its bottom.
  2. Hold your thumb over the hole as you fill the cup with water. Predict what will happen to the water if you remove your thumb.
  3. Place the bucket on the floor under where you are working. Remove your thumb and let the water stream out from the cup into the bucket on the floor.
  4. Again, put your thumb back over the hole and refill the cup with water.
  5. This time, drop the filled cup into the bucket. Try and drop the cup from the highest possible point.

Repeat the experiment several times and compare results.


Record your observations in your Scientific Journal.


  1. How does this demonstration show microgravity for a brief moment?
  2. Why is the water held inside the cup? What force is keeping it there?

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Make your own solar array

National Research Council Canada

Here on Earth, we use the energy from the Sun for many things. Spacecraft rely on the Sun's energy as a form of power for motors. Spacecraft that travel great distances away from the Sun can not make this form of energy its only source. The missions to Mars are able to use limited solar energy in the form of rechargeable batteries but they also need alternate energy sources.

The International Space Station will capitalize on the Sun's energy. This is evident by the size of the solar arrays. These panels will focus the rays of the Sun and harness the energy into a usable form.


  • To construct a solar motor

Materials and Equipment:

  • Three tin cans (large soup cans)
  • Can opener
  • Pencil and paper
  • Masking tape
  • Straight pins with heads
  • Sheet of white paper or aluminum foil 15 cm square
  • Scissors
  • Wire
  • Wooden blocks, bricks, or stacks of books


  1. Remove both ends from the three large cans. Tape the cans together to form a column.
  2. Position the tin can column on top of two supports (such as the bricks) in direct sunlight. Make sure there is a space between the ground and the tin can column (provided by the bricks.)
  3. Tape a straight pin (head down) to one end of a piece of wire. Bend the wire and tape it to the top of the tin can in the column so that the pin points upward in the centre of the column.
  4. Make a pinwheel. Cut a 15 cm sheet of paper or aluminum foil diagonally from each corner to within 1 centimetre of the centre. Bend every other point back to the centre of the square. Tape the points together at the centre.
  5. Balance the pinwheel on the pin in the middle of the tin can column. Record your findings.
  6. Draw a diagram of the solar motor and label all parts.


  • Record your observations.
  • Post your results in your Team Blog.


  1. What caused the pinwheel to turn?
  2. How could you make it turn faster?
  3. How could this information be used in the design of the habitat on Mars?

Other Activities:

  • Experiment with other materials to find out how you can make the pinwheel turn faster. What happens if you change the colour on the inside or outside of the tin can column? If the outside is painted black, what happens to the temperature of the air? What happens if you raise the column higher off the ground? Experiment with different materials for the pinwheel.
  • Research the types of materials being used for the solar arrays on the International Space Station and compare your findings. Consider using solar energy as one form of energy

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Monitoring your heart rate

National Research Council Canada

Astronauts need to be physically fit before they go into space. One way to measure this is how fast their heart rate returns to normal after exercise. Astronauts who are in very good physical condition will have a heart rate that returns to normal very quickly. That is important because if people get nervous or excited and their heart rate gets higher, they might not be able to perform some tasks properly. Astronauts train to get their heart rate lowered quickly.


  • To monitor heart rate before, during and after exercise
  • To demonstrate the importance of physical fitness for space explorers

Materials and Equipment:

  • Stopwatch or watch with second hand
  • Pencil and recording sheet


Work with a partner for the activities. Divide jobs into Timer and Performer. Make a record sheet for these activities. Create a chart to show the heart rate for your partner.


Resting Heart Rate:

  1. Take your partner's resting heart rate. Use your index finger and middle finger to find the pulse on neck below the chin (easiest to locate) or inside of wrist.
  2. Count the number of beats in 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to get heart rate for 1 minute.
  3. Record resting heart rate.


Working Heart Rate:

  1. Jog on the spot for 2 minutes
  2. Quickly sit down while timer takes pulse again for 15 seconds
  3. Record the working heart rate


Recovery Heart Rate:

  1. Rest quietly for 1 minute in a sitting position.
  2. Timer will take your pulse rate for 15 seconds, multiply by 4 to get recovery heart rate.
  3. Record recovery heart rate.

Performer and Timer

  1. Compare resting heart rate and recovery heart rate.
  2. Switch roles and repeat activities.
  3. Do this experiment several times over the program and see how it improves. Remember, the better physical condition you are in, the faster your heart rate will return to normal!! Chart your progress.


  • Session # Date:
  • Name
  • Resting Heart Rate _ x 4 =
  • Working Heart Rate _ x 4 =
  • Recovery Heart Rate _ x 4 =
  • Post your results in your Team Blog.


  1. Why is it important for space explorers to be in good physical condition?
  2. How will you make sure that you get enough physical activity on the Space Station?
  3. What difference does less gravity make on the physical condition of space explorers?

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