Ottawa supports kids' science programs

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Photo from the Engineering Science Quest event

At yesterday's event, hard-hatted youngsters from Engineering Science Quest showed off their miniature city for VIPs including dean of science Terry McMahon, dean of engineering Adel Sedra, and Actua CEO Jennifer Flanagan.

As published in the Daily Bulletin on August 18, 2011

A federal government grant of “up to $1.25 million” will support Waterloo’s Engineering Science Quest and similar programs at eight other Ontario universities, for the sake of “preparing young people for today’s high-tech economy”, it was announced yesterday.

Peter Braid, Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Waterloo, made the announcement at a news conference in Engineering 5 building. He was speaking on behalf of Gary Goodyear, the minister of state responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev).

He said "more children in southern Ontario will be able to experience real-world scientific issues and innovations” because of the grant, which is going to Actua, a national science, engineering and technology youth outreach network. Said Braid: “By developing our next generation of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians, we can help drive innovation and keep the economy growing in southern Ontario for years to come."

Actua is getting the funds, says a news release, “to enhance its customized programming designed to engage youth who are typically underrepresented and undeserved in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields." This includes Aboriginal youth, girls, underprivileged youth, at-risk youth and youth living in remote areas or inner-city neighbourhoods.

“The funding will help Actua create more spaces in southern Ontario for children to participate in summer camps, classroom workshops, clubs and community outreach activities. These are delivered by university undergraduate students in science, technology and engineering programs who are instructors for Actua network members. That includes Waterloo’s ESQ, which is running programs this summer on the Waterloo, Cambridge and Stratford campuses and in Brantford, Chatham, Orangeville and Owen Sound.

More than 3 million young Canadians have been inspired through their participation in Actua’s positive, hands-on educational workshops, camps and community outreach initiatives,” the news release said. “Over the next three years, Actua anticipates reaching an additional 17,000 youth in southern Ontario. Of that total, an estimated 10,000 girls, 2,250 Aboriginal youth, and 450 at-risk and marginalized youth will be benefit from the new summer camps, classroom workshops, clubs and community outreach activities. Through this partnership, Actua will also support an estimated 200 jobs per year, mainly for undergraduate STEM students, for the next three years.

The investment is being provided through FedDev Ontario’s Youth STEM Initiative, aimed at encouraging students in kindergarten through grade 12 to pursue an education or career in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The initiative provides funding to not-for-profit organizations to expand, enhance and coordinate the reach and impact of educational outreach programs. It’s designed “to encourage young people to pursue further studies and careers in these fields, creating a future talent pool that is well-positioned to fuel business innovation and growth in southern Ontario”.