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Build a learning framework for STEM education - Canada 2067

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 11/15/2016 1479225940
Seventy per cent of the top jobs in Canada today require some STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills – and this number i .... Read more

Seventy per cent of the top jobs in Canada today require some STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills – and this number is growing every year. That said, less than half of Canadian high school students graduate with senior level science and math courses and only one in five graduate with the prerequisites to pursue engineering.

At Let’s Talk Science, we are committed to helping youth build the competencies they need to become innovators, critical thinkers and problem solvers ready to meet the challenges of an increasingly demanding economy through education in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

STEM learning builds competencies and characteristics that are needed for all jobs – things like critical thinking, problem solving, information management, positive risk taking, resiliency, effective communication and more. As the world rapidly changes, work and citizenship demands will require greater capacity in STEM.

Canada 2067 is our bold new nation-building initiative that will bring Canadians together to develop a STEM learning framework.

With Canada 2067, we are calling on Canadians to join the conversation on STEM education by visiting http://canada2067.ca and filling out our online learning framework questionnaire.

The contributions of Canadians through this initiative will contribute to a STEM learning framework for the next 50 years – and will help us to evolve and strengthen Canada’s education model for the 21st century by enhancing student exposure and access to the STEM disciplines across all levels and areas of learning.

Together, we’ll make sure Canadian youth have the skills they need to face the future with confidence.

 

About Let’s Talk Science: Let's Talk Science is an award-winning national, charitable organization. Over the past twenty years, we have worked with educators to support learning and skill development. We’ve developed hands-on programs for Kindergarten to Grade 12 youth to get them interested in STEM at an early age and keep them engaged as they move through high school. Our goal is to motivate and empower youth to fulfill their potential and prepare for their future careers and roles as citizens.

Credit: Let's Talk Science, Canada 2067

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Finish High School with a Bachelor's Degree - Why Not?

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 10/17/2016 1476710077
http://wfla.com/2016/10/16/finish-high-school-with-bachelors-degree-at-1-florida-school-yes/   Tuition-free Florida Atlantic University gives smart .... Read more

http://wfla.com/2016/10/16/finish-high-school-with-bachelors-degree-at-1-florida-school-yes/  

Tuition-free Florida Atlantic University gives smart kids a chance to earn a high-school diploma along with a bachelor's degree at the same time.  Why not? Future of public education which blurs the lines between institutions and ideas. Canadian provinces and territories & the federal government should move beyond the educational divide to encourage innovation in education.

Credit: Florida Atlantic University

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STEM Learning Ecosystem

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 09/14/2016 1473894497
Cross-sector collaboration of science and technology education providers can result in a "learning ecosystem" with high potential for scaling. See th .... Read more

Cross-sector collaboration of science and technology education providers can result in a "learning ecosystem" with high potential for scaling. See the attached document for details.

Credit: Organizations include UBC, SFU, Genome BC, BC Science Teachers Assn, & the Mitchell Odyssey Fdn.

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Access to Talent

Question:How can Canada become the best country in attracting and developing talent?
on 08/10/2016 1470860628
The talent pool is seen as neither wide nor deep. While talent is less of an issue with MNEs, experienced and networked talent is seen as lacking in .... Read more

The talent pool is seen as neither wide nor deep.

While talent is less of an issue with MNEs, experienced and networked talent is seen as lacking in Canada and a number of CEOs talked about the value to an MNE of people who have worked in a number of countries, have exposure to new and different ways of thinking and doing things (Reference is from OBIO’s latest report “How Canada Should be Engaging in a $9 Trillion Dollar Health Economy” www.obio.ca)

SMEs reported more challenges with finding and retaining the human resources they need. Barriers that were mentioned include Canadian immigration policies, competition from jurisdictions with better financing, less risky companies, lack of incentives and security for employees to join and stay in the industry and lack of support for companies to create jobs and build an experienced workforce.

The report recommends, talent attraction and retention policies or programs to eliminate barriers to immigration and provide direct funding or tax relief for companies to competitively develop experienced personnel.

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National Youth Science and Innovation Network

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 07/27/2016 1469642783
Stimulating interest in and supporting a national network for youth to explore hands-on, project-based science. Canada's response to the technologica .... Read more

Stimulating interest in and supporting a national network for youth to explore hands-on, project-based science.

Canada's response to the technological and space race in the 1960s was the development of local, regional and national opportunities to foster and showcase the innovativeness of youth in science - science fairs. Over five decades, this network - primarily driven by volunteers and teachers - has helped develop some of Canada's (and the world's) leaders in business, research, science and social impact. From Roberta Bondar to Michael Serbinis to Marc Kielburger to Raymond Wang, science fairs have helped shape the impact Canada has on the world.

Investing in a proven program that encourages youth from curiosity through to discovery will ensure Canada's success in innovation, skills development and will creates the nation's future economic leaders.

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Summer Science Camps - Age Inappropriate Science for kids

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 07/05/2016 1467744407
Summer time offers children an opportunity to play and participate in learning activities free of deadlines, exams and school routine.  Kids are fas .... Read more

Summer time offers children an opportunity to play and participate in learning activities free of deadlines, exams and school routine.  Kids are fascinated by nature, biology, space and just about any field of science.  They love to ask `why`and `how`and `how come`. Their thirst for knowledge can be exhausting as it rarely has a limit.   Children have curiosity that is not tempered by self-imposed age appropriate limitations and are equally eager to learn about worms, DNA, flight, stars, travel to Mars, etc.   They have ambition that is driven by curiosity and knowledge that stimulates ambition to answer questions that are sometimes relentless and complex.   Parents are sometimes challenged to answer their questions let alone give them an opportunity to have hands on experience learning about science, with a scientist (engineer, informatician, etc.) in a lab equipped for university level science, engineering and technology. 

Canadians have invested in developing world-class universities and colleges that are populated with staff and students eager to share their knowledge.   Universities hope to recruit future students and are increasingly opening their labs and facilities to children who visit to learn about what universities could offer their curious and ambitious minds.  During the summer months universities are often closed, or activities in departments scaled back, as students take a break for the summer months.  There is an opportunity to develop a program to fund universities to develop summer camp programs for children who are curious about science, engineering and technology.   Children can be offered age-inappropriate science, or science that is taught to students at university.   Giving universities funding to hire students to develop activities and projects for children that visit the university summer science camp provides meaningful employment, engagement of future students, and full utilization of university facilities for community enrichment.

Elementary schools and High schools look with envy at the well-equipped molecular biology labs, engineering testing facilities, biology labs, computational labs, etc. knowing they have precocious students who long to do more in school, take their science projects to the next step, but can`t as the school doesn`t have funding to provide for these extracurricular activities and excursions.   We are nurturing frustrated aspiring scientists by limiting their access to advanced knowledge and applications of science and technology by restricting their inquiries to school curriculum, a science fair or special project at school.

Children want to know and learn more at younger ages.  They have access to the internet and can be self-taught to a point where they need instruction or hands on experience.  We have a nation of geniuses who lack access to expertise and lab facilities that would help cement their passion for knowledge and quest for discovery.

Parents crave access to additional resources for children with an insatiable desire to learn and know `why`and `how does it work`.  Fear of over scheduling children and not giving them time to play and relax in the summer could be avoided by adding summer activities as part of the summer camp, visits to parks, camping trips, sports activities (at sports facilities at our universities) to compliment the science camp activities in the labs.

Canadian parents want to respond to children`s natural curiosity and passion for knowledge.  We see the strain of the teachers in schools in our communities where budget cuts further hamper their ability to offer children resources they crave.  A summer science camp for children seeking age-inappropriate Science would fill a void in the programs offered by the federal government to encourage bright university students to find employment in the summer months.  A summer science camp based at our universities would give universities an opportunity to open their facilities to the community and give parents and children a first hand look at their facilities and faculty.

Our economy will depend on the current and next generation of children to be fully employed in good jobs. STEM training provides children with skills and aptitude to compete for good jobs and develop capacities to develop our economy as adults.  Children who arrive in Canada and parents who arrive in Canada as adults and children may not have had exposure to university training in Canada. Providing these parents and children with access to university facilities helps prepare and inform them of choices for further education and where they can seek information in their community.

The summer months are an ideal time for a summer science camp.  Parents are often working and need childcare for children that would rather not stay at home during their holidays.   Children enjoy socializing with new friends and in new contexts where they are learning something new or discovering their curiosity for knowledge they didn`t know existed.  This creates a positive experience and memory that is not tied to an exam, a grade, an expectation or evaluation.   Science is simply fun.

 

 

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National youth STEM and innovation development system - like hockey

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 07/02/2016 1467490212
Studies over the past 15 years have shown that about two-thirds of Canadian kids ages 12-18 think STEM is important, interesting, and fun. Canadian st .... Read more

Studies over the past 15 years have shown that about two-thirds of Canadian kids ages 12-18 think STEM is important, interesting, and fun. Canadian students rank in the top 10 of 65 OECD countries on international tests of science achievement. Our kids like, and are good at STEM.

Yet, despite this potential, only about 30% of Canadian high school students take STEM courses after grade 10, limiting their access to opportunities in STEM-related fields. No surprise that in 2014 the Canadian Council of Academies (CCA) reported that Canada’s total employment in STEM occupations was just 30% – 22nd out of 37 countries. Do our kids just lose interest in high school? Perhaps, but then how do we explain that 93% of Canadian adults are very or moderately interested in new scientific discoveries and technological developments (1st out of 33 countries), or that 32% visited a science centre/museum in the previous year (2nd out of 39 countries) – according to the same CCA report.

We’re good at getting Canadian kids interested in STEM. Over 100 organizations and institutions, from local to national, offer school presentations, workshops, camps, experiences, challenges, and competitions. They reach a huge number of students, but the percentage of high school students taking STEM courses has remained stubbornly around 30% for years. Canada has no lack of STEM promotion programs – we lack a national strategy and coordination.

PromoScience, through NSERC, provides federal funding for many of these programs – $4.8M over 3 years to 43 organizations in 2015. Grants are awarded through a peer-review process; however, there’s no analysis for redundancy, imbalances, and gaps – or even a program inventory to analyze. As a result, there’s no strategy underlying this funding, or benchmarks to measure progress; the best-written proposals get funded.

Canada produces great hockey players – and now Olympic athletes – because we have a development system. It starts by getting lots of young kids participating for fun. From there, those with ability and passion (and/or ‘enthusiastic’ parents) progress through a series of levels that build skills and identify top prospects. Canada has lots of Timbits-type STEM programs, but no system to guide those kids or parents when they ask, “What’s next?”

I propose that Canada build on its excellent STEM promotion capacity to establish a national youth STEM and innovation development system, similar to those for sports, to cultivate not only interest and excitement, but engagement, skills, and excellence. A national youth STEM and innovation advisory panel – leaders from the national youth STEM and innovation organizations; representatives of regional, provincial, and local organizations; and young Canadians – should be appointed to guide the process. They would start by building a national inventory of programs and then analyze to identify systemic strengths and weaknesses, recommend targets, and evaluate progress.

If we’re serious about developing youth with skills for the future economy, let’s get Canada’s youth STEM promotion organizations working together, rather than competing with each other for funding and profile. It works for hockey.

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National youth STEM, innovation, and entrepreneurship celebration event

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 06/30/2016 1467314950
Canadian high school students regularly achieve world-class results in international STEM competitions. In 2015 – and again in 2016 – youn .... Read more

Canadian high school students regularly achieve world-class results in international STEM competitions. In 2015 – and again in 2016 – young Canadians won the top award (and the US$75,000 cash prize) at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), topping 1,700 students from 75 countries. Canadians have won the Sanofi International Biogenius Challenge, FIRST Robotics Competition World Championships, and numerous STEM Olympiad competitions from astronomy to mathematics. Canadians have been top 15 finalists (from over 10,000 global entries) in the Google Science Fair almost every year since it began in 2011 – and won top awards in 2013 and 2014.

Most Canadians – and particularly our youth – are completely unaware. It’s as if our world junior hockey team won and no-one noticed. That doesn’t happen because Canada has a vibrant hockey culture. Thanks to Vancouver 2010 and Own the Podium, we’re developing an Olympic culture. But we need a STEM, innovation, and entrepreneurship culture.

As in sports, a STEM culture needs heroes – rising stars that young Canadians recognize and emulate. When 16-year-old Victoria BC inventor Ann Makosinski appeared on the Jimmy Fallon Show with her hand-heat-powered flashlight – and again a year later with a cell phone charging travel mug – kids noticed. Peltier tile-powered devices – many built by girls – appeared at science fairs across Canada. Building a science and innovation culture is no different to building a hockey or Olympic culture; celebrating excellence and achievement on the national stage and in the media is an essential component.

In 2010, U.S. President Obama initiated what became an annual tradition – the White House Science Fair. Over the past six years, this event has celebrated the winners of a broad range of youth STEM and entrepreneurship competitions at what the President has called, “the most fun day of the year.”

I propose creating an annual event, hosted on Parliament Hill, to recognize Canadian winners of national and international youth STEM, innovation, and entrepreneurship competitions and other young Canadian achievers. They would be invited to share their work with the Prime Minister / Minister of Youth, Minister of Science, Key Opinion Leaders, STEM-related government officials, and most importantly, the media.

Most kids aren’t going to become professional or Olympic athletes, but wanting to inspires and motivates. Let’s celebrate Canada’s youth STEM, innovation, and entrepreneurship heroes and role models.

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Create small business grants to foster Canadian innovation

Question:How can Canada become the best country in attracting and developing talent?
on 06/23/2016 1466682464
Tags: Business  science  grants 
The NIH in the US has a SBIR (small business innovation research) grant program that aids enormously in getting new startup companies going.  It is a .... Read more

The NIH in the US has a SBIR (small business innovation research) grant program that aids enormously in getting new startup companies going.  It is a highly used and integral part of the business environment in the US that is completely lacking in Canada.  We should consider adopting this strategy to allow Canadian small business ideas to be developed at home.

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