Entrepreneurial and creative society
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.
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.