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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Contest and Creativity

Despite threats of strikes all summer, and not even a tentative deal for elementary teachers as yet, the school bell has rung and classes are back in session. Some students bounded through the doors happy to be back, and others had to be physically dragged out of bed on that first day. As a kid, I was part of that latter group. It wasn’t that I disliked learning – I just wanted to learn what I wanted, how and when I wanted to. The curriculum didn’t make concessions for my whims. Now that I’m all grown up, I still like to learn new things and I get to pick and choose now. Most adults do enjoy expanding their horizons so, in honour of the first week of school, we’ve compiled a few lesson plans of our own. Read on to find out what your fall classes have to offer.

Math – Those of you who watch Jimmy Fallon may have seen this one on The Tonight Show. We don’t get many trick or treaters in Orr Lake, but you can still get into the spirit with a pumpkin time bomb. Just get a pumpkin and some rubber bands (all bands the same size). Wrap the bands around the pumpkin and track the number of bands it takes to make it explode. You may be wondering how this is particularly pertinent to our little hamlet. Actually, it’s not but there’s a math teacher at John McGregor Secondary School in Chatham who turned it into a math lesson and even created a Google Form that will collect data from people around the globe trying the experiment. His name? Jon Orr. To learn more about this project go to For more ideas, visit his website:

Art – If blowing pumpkins up isn’t your thing, get your creative juices flowing and enter our pumpkin art contest, open to anyone who has purchased a 2015 or 2016 membership – cottagers and permanent residents alike. Carve them, paint them, stack them, arrange them to re-enact the Battle of the Plains of Abraham – whatever medium or form you like. Don’t worry if, like me, you aren’t terribly talented in the arts department. We’re offering one prize in each of two categories. The first is artistic merit and the second is creative invention (where the idea counts more than the execution). Just take a photo of your creation and email it to us by October 30th along with your name, address and preferred contact information. The winning photos and short interviews with the creative geniuses will be featured in an upcoming article right here in this column.

Phys Ed – Did you know that Orr Lake Golf Club has a 3 Hole Par 3 Course called the Orr Lake Learning Links? This initiative increases the opportunity for kids, families and beginners to try out the game of golf. The 3 holes are 51, 98 and 48 yards and, instead of the usual 4 inch putting cups, include 8 inch cups making it easier for beginners. The Learning Links costs $5 per person and includes a chipping club, putter and 3 balls.

Language – This course involves a bit of shameless self-promotion. Orr Lake is home to a member of local writing group, Wye Write. That would be yours truly. The group has just published our fourth collection of short stories and will be touring the area presenting The Stories Behind the Stories. Keep an eye out for posters around town, and be sure to read the Springwater News cover to cover so you don’t miss the next event. To order a copy of the new book, just send off a quick email to If you do attend an event, please be sure to let us know you heard about it here.

Music – Here’s one you can do when you’re outside relaxing or getting in those last few boating outings during these last warm days. Match a song to how you feel when you’re cruising the water or just sitting back watching the waves. Send us your titles and the name of the artist. If we get enough submissions, perhaps we can put together a playlist that can be burned to discs for everyone who submits a song to enjoy.

Science / Social Studies – Before old man winter gets a grip on the land, find one thing that you can do today to make the lake more sustainable or be kind to our wildlife. Clean up a patch of the road or plant a naturalized shoreline. When you fertilize or treat for weeds and pests, use natural products. Build a bat house, plant milkweed or get the suet feeder ready for the cold months. Let us know what you accomplish – you can even send us photos to post on the blog.

If you’ve considered all these possibilities, and still find yourself wanting to burrow back under the covers, take heart. If the folks from the Farmer’s Almanac know what they’re doing there are plenty of snow days in the not too distant future when you’ll be able to do just that!