BRANTFORD — “The day was planned with both short-term and long-term goals in mind,” says Kezia Cooke, Enrichment Learning Resource Teacher for the Haldimand family of schools about the STEM Challenge Day (Science Technology, Engineering Mathematics) that provided interactive workshops for intermediate students in Grand Erie’s Enrichment programs, geared at developing 21st-century competencies. “Speaking long-term,
BRANTFORD — “The day was planned with both short-term and long-term goals in mind,” says Kezia Cooke, Enrichment Learning Resource Teacher for the Haldimand family of schools about the STEM Challenge Day (Science Technology, Engineering Mathematics) that provided interactive workshops for intermediate students in Grand Erie’s Enrichment programs, geared at developing 21st-century competencies. “Speaking long-term, many of the students here today will find employment in jobs that don’t exist right now, but the skills of collaboration, cooperation, and the ability to think outside the box together to solve problems will be vital.”
In the short-term, the day reinforced the social and academic skills crucial to a successful transition to secondary school.
Workshops offered an exploration of mechanical systems, devising plans and building bridges, creating energy though windmill model construction, and exploring engineering principles through coding with Minecraft. Students were able to choose the workshops that piqued their particular interests and got to know students from across Grand Erie as they worked in new groups to meet the timed challenges head-on.
“One of the highlights of the day is that it’s bringing together like-minded, curiosity-driven students from the three Enrichment centres and gifted classrooms in Haldimand, Norfolk, and Brant to work together by thinking creatively and critically,” said Joshua Malig, Enrichment Learning Resource Teacher for Brant/Brantford. “They’re working through real-world issues and delving into solutions in a way they wouldn’t get to in a traditional classroom.”
The day was made possible thanks to the assistance and guidance of teachers and system consultants involved in running the programming, with support from the Board and the Principal Lead of Special Education, Julie White. Participation from Microsoft and Western University’s Engineering Outreach Program further enhanced the event.
“Having Western University involved allowed students to think beyond secondary school, and to look at what they can do with science and engineering in the real world,” said Wanda Backus-Kelly, Enrichment Learning Resource Teacher for Norfolk. “It’s put the focus on achievement and the everyday aspects of engineering, while also highlighting women in engineering.”
The event supports Grand Erie’s Multi-Year Plan, which prioritizes Achievement by setting high expectations, and increasing student understanding of effective learning strategies.
Over in the Whirling Windmills workshop, students were working with everyday materials including a plastic Starbucks cup and using their knowledge of physics and gravity to create a windmill that could withstand high winds and successfully lift an object.
“We had some doubts about whether our windmill would be successful, but we worked really well as a team and made some changes to our design,” said Ethan, Grade 8 student from St. George-German Public School. “Watching it work after all the effort we put into it was the best part.”