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Sierra Lehman taps out a beat as a youth member of the Uxbridge Pipe and Drum Band at the Highland Games of Durham, held this past weekend at Elgin Park. Photos by John Cavers

Inside This Week’s Cosmos

The Cosmos is Twitter-pated . . . 3

Better minds one Lego at a time . . . 4

Canada and The Anniversary . . . 5

Cattails in countryside preserve . . . 6

Maud and World War 1 . . . 8


Highland Games of Durham - photos by John Cavers

Lego + learning = good times

by Lisha Van Nieuwenhove

What would your kids say if they knew that the Lego they were playing with was E-D-U-C-A-T-I-O-N-A-L? They likely wouldn't care, as the multi-coloured little pieces of plastic that are built into entire mini-universes are the staple of many a childhood (and the bane of many a parent's foot in a darkened room!) Some Lego, however, has a special purpose, and that is to be part of Bricks 4 Kidz,, a relatively new way of using Lego to teach children some of the fundamentals of science, technology, engineer and mathematics (S.T.E.M.-based learning). And this learning while you play is coming to North Durham.
Jay Da Costa, a computer technician/website developer/semi-professional actor who currently lives in Beaverton with his family, recently started a Bricks 4 Kidz franchise that will cover all of North Durham, the Kawarthas and Lake Simcoe.
“I really love kids, and I was having a lot of fun volunteering at my daughter's school. I directed a play, helped with Scientist in the School, that sort of thing, and I just loved it. I was looking for something to do like this but more as a job, and I came across Bricks 4 Kidz,” explains Jay.
He got in touch with Bricks 4 Kidz, and after a lengthy vetting process, Jay travelled to Florida to train at the head office of the Creative Learning Corporation, which owns the Bricks 4 Kidz company. Now his home office has shelves that are filled with various kits of Lego in all shapes and sizes, all waiting to be built into fantastic little worlds that are going to teach their creators how things work. Jay hopes to unpack all these kits at a camp that he's holding at the Uxbridge Legion beginning August 11. There will be two themes to these Lego camps - one will be based on the popular video game Minecraft, and the other will be an amusement park. The kits being used at this camp are specially designed for use by 6 - 12 year olds, and include motors, pullies, robotics - real-live working parts! Campers can either come in the morning and help build a 3D Minecraft space, the afternoon to build an amusement park (that will have working rides, etc.), or stay all day and help build both. There will also be opportunities for freeplay with the Lego, as well as crafts.
“I'm so excited about this,” says Jay. “I love Lego myself, and I get to play with it, and kids, all day! It doesn't get any better,” he laughs.
Bricks 4 Kidz isn't just a camp activity. Some of the kits (which are real Lego but are not like the kits you buy in retail stores) are geared toward older students - Jay gives the example of the DNA kit. Students in school can learn all about DNA in a traditional way, and then are given the opportunity to build a double helix out of Lego. At the highest levels there are computer programs that enable students to use their Lego in stop-motion animation.
Jay hopes to take Bricks 4 Kidz into many schools, where it can be used either in class or as part of an after school program. There is already a Bricks 4 Kidz franchise in York Region, and Jay says that it has been approved for use in several schools there. He hopes to have the same happen in his new “territory”. He also says Bricks 4 Kidz makes a sensational themed birthday party activity.
Bricks 4 Kidz has been voted the number one kid's enrichment franchise in the world, and can be found as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, India and Spain, just to name a few.
Bricks 4 Kidz® North Durham, Lake Simcoe and the Kawarthas will be offering summer camps in Uxbridge on August 11 - 15 at the Uxbridge Legion. For more information on these and other Bricks 4 Kidz programs, or to register for camp sessions, please visit www.Bricks4Kidz.com/382, or contact Jay Da Costa at jdacosta@bricks4kidz.com.


The Nature Nut

with Nancy Melcher

Important Cattail Research Underway In Countryside Preserve - Photos by Nancy Melcher.

Cattail plants in the Countryside Preserve pond have been sporting some fancy hats. It's not a new art installation, nor is it the work of mischievous youth with too much spare time on their hands. This is Trent University student Sara Pieper's Ph. D. research project into cattails, both native (broad-leaved) and introduced (narrow-leaved) species, along with cross-pollinated hybrids. The Township of Uxbridge and the Trails Committee support Pieper's work.
Her findings will provide insights on how the hybrids could affect natural wetlands. Hybrid cattails are invasive and aggressive plants. They can dominate a wetland, squeezing out the native broad-leaved cattails. Pieper hopes her research will help to identify which wetlands are at risk of hybridization, and slow the creation of hybrid cattails.
Her focus is on how hybridization occurs, so she's studying the movement of pollen of both broad-leaved and narrow-leaved cattails in natural wetlands. Most wetlands in this part of Ontario have hybrids of the two species. Finding a pond with only one species is important to eliminate the potential for cross-pollination. It's also important that the study area be far enough away from other cattails for the same reason.
Pieper chose to study the cattails in the small pond near Post 4 because it has only narrow-leaved cattails. It's also physically isolated from other cattails in the area. (So how did the cattails get there in the first place? That's a question for another study!) She's removed pollen from some plants, brought other potted cattail plants into the pond for pollination purposes, and has put bags over other cattail flowers to have controls. She will learn how much pollen reaches the remaining exposed flowers at different distances and directions from the potted cattails.
Pieper's research will run until the end of this month. Many walkers in the Preserve have asked her about what she's doing when she's working in the pond. Others have asked the Nature Nut to investigate the paper bags. All the potted plants and equipment will be removed at the completion of the study later this summer.


Royal Canadian Mint chooses Goodwood artist to design collector coin series

by Amy Hurlburt

Artist Bert Liverance was surprisedwhen he was contacted by the Royal Canadian Mint to design a new series of collector coins showcasing Canada's favourite flowers. After discovering Liverance's work through his website, the Mint contacted him and requested his participation in a competition for the opportunity to develop the coins.
“I never found out how many people were in the competition,” states the Goodwood-based artist. “It was an honour to be considered amongst so many talented artists out there, and even more of an honour to have them choose my designs. They could have picked any artist in Canada.”
Liverance, a botanical artist for about 20 years and former sculptor, found that this experience was an excellent opportunity to hybridize his interests in both three dimensional and two dimensional art. His portfolio is fairly extensive, consisting of artwork held by corporations and private collectors worldwide and shown in juried exhibitions throughout North America. He is also a member of the Botanical Artists of Canada, American Society of Botanical Artists, Oil Painters of America, and Group of Twelve. He is also currently enrolled in the Royal Botanical Gardens Edinburgh Botanical Illustration Program, a three-year degree program.
Working with the Royal Canadian Mint was Liverance's first opportunity to have his work converted into a coin. He found the whole experience to be extremely positive: “The best part was certainly working with the people from the Mint,” he states. “They were really so fantastic…it's incredible the way they can take a two dimensional image and make it a three dimensional image. They were so flexible, and absolutely great to work with.”
The process allowed for some creative collaboration, with Liverance suggesting one different flower in lieu of an initial suggestion, which they found to be agreeable.
The first coin from the collection was released earlier this month. “Tulip” is a silver $5 coin featuring a niobium core, new technology that allows selective colourization through an electrical charging process. In this case, the tulip is a vibrant peach colour and was chosen by the Mint to launch the series to celebrate Ottawa's claim as “The Tulip Capital of North America”.
The coin's production began as a 19” x 19” painting, which was altered for engraving to suit the 28 millimetre coin. The two coins that are still to be released (the flowers for which are still secrets for the time being) should be available by late summer or early fall, before the holiday season.
“It's a long process,” explains Liverance. “The tulip was done last fall, and it's hard to keep it quiet, but the whole thing is very confidential. I could only tell my wife!”
Liverance credits his wife with helping his art bloom to its fullest potential: “Artists cannot survive without support or having someone who backs them. My wife is definitely that person for me. She keeps me sane, and keeps me running,” he says with a laugh.
“It was a joy working with the people at the Mint. They treat artists with such gratitude and respect. It really is wonderful to see a Crown Corporation supporting Canadian artists - working hand-in-hand with them to create lasting images. This whole experience has been a treat and a privilege”
“Tulip” is limited to 6,000 coins worldwide and sells for $139.95 on the Royal Canadian Mint website. Rutledge Jewellers has stocked a limited number of coin frames that convert the coin to a pendant on a silver necklace - wearable art! To view Liverance's work, visit www.bertliverance.com. He can also be reached at bert@colishcreations.com.

Meanwhile, Back at the Manse

by Barb Pratt

Lucy Maud Montgomery and the First World War

“The Globe came as we went to dinner. I sat down weak and unnerved. I could not eat. I could only sit there dumbly trying to realize it - to realize that our Empire was at war. And such a war! No paltry struggle in an out-of-the-way corner - no Boer conflict which we thought so terrible at the time- but a death grapple. For Germany comes to conquer or to die.
“[…] Four years ago Earl Grey told me that war between England and Germany was surely coming in a few years. I said 'Don't you think that is one of the things that are expected so long they never come to pass? It is generally some other thing - the unexpected thing that happens.' But he said, 'No. This is coming. We must get ready for it.'
“[…] These last four days have seemed like a nightmare. Already Canada is ablaze. Volunteers are being called for Red Cross and patriotic funds are being started. The bottom has fallen out of the world's markets. Civilization stands aghast at the horror that is coming upon it.”
There are many historical accounts of the Great War, written by learned historians. But the journals kept by L.M. Montgomery, from which these quotes are taken, are something different. Maud's day to day entries give the war an immediacy and reality. Battles are agonized over, the outcomes unknown, the defeats tragic, the victories celebrated. She brings the far off conflict to her own doorstep in Leaskdale.
Newspapers were for the first time using correspondents on the battlefield to report the progress of the war. Montgomery followed the daily press assiduously, and reacted emotionally to the daily news, writing down the events in her journal. Twenty-six young men from the parish volunteered for overseas duty, and six were killed in action. Maud went with her husband on consolation visits to affected families. Her book Rainbow Valley is dedicated “To the memory of Goldwyn Lapp, Robert Brookes, and Morley Shier, who made the supreme sacrifice that the happy valleys of their home land might be kept sacred from the ravage of the invader.”
Montgomery's war accounts are in Volume 2 of The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery. In light of all the World War 1 publications this summer, when the 100th anniversary of the outbreak is being observed, Montgomery's daily entries are absolutely compulsive reading.
The LMMSO has put together a large display of World War 1 artifacts at the Historic Leaskdale Church. The display points out the changes brought about in daily lives during and after the war. As well, Montgomery's reaction to the War and its aftermath figures heavily in the play Maud of Leaskdale.


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