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STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – is Blooming at HWDSB

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STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – is Blooming at HWDSB


It has been a big month for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) at HWDSB – thanks to outstanding teams and clubs of coders, award-winning science fair participants and impressive new and existing robotics programs.

STEM is considered one of the most promising fields of study and employment as Canada continues to develop its knowledge economy. It may also face labour shortages if students are not prepared.

“We are transforming learning throughout HWDSB as we foster learning through inquiry, innovation and critical thinking,” said Executive Superintendent of Leadership and Learning Peter Joshua. “We owe our students an education that prepares them for a 21st century economy where they will work in jobs that haven’t yet been invented.”

westdale coders

Westdale coders (L-R) Nicola Lawford, Brigitte Ziemann and Sylvia Kukucska are on their way to regionals.

Board-wide Coding Contest

For the first time, an all-female coding team (Nuclear Lemons) on April 5 won the HWDSB Computer Programming Contest. Teams had three hours to solve four problems using the computer programming language of their choice. They were scored on the efficiency of their solution and on the time it took them to finish the questions.

Westdale computer science standouts Nicola Lawford, Brigitte Ziemann, Sylvia Kukucska and Miruna Dragomir (missing in photo) are on their way to the ECOO regionals to be held on April 30 at York University. HWDSB sends best wishes with all five teams heading to regionals.

Code Clubs on the Rise

Coding is growing at schools across HWDSB, thanks in part to a new Hamilton Code Club program that gives middle school students a chance to try computer programming in an inclusive and fun setting. In the program, volunteer mentors visit Hamilton-area schools, for six weeks, to introduce beginner coding tools like Scratch and Hopscotch to students, and teach them how to build simple games and applications using the tools. Clubs now exist in dozens of HWDSB schools.

Hamilton Code Club is a program by the Industry-Education Council of Hamilton (IEC), and is supported by an ABACUS grant from the Hamilton Community Foundation. ABACUS aims to increase post-secondary access by focusing on children in the middle-school years. The IEC is a not-for-profit organization serving Greater Hamilton, devoted to fostering partnerships between business, industry, government, community and education to support experiential learning opportunities for all learners, through quality mentoring.

HWDSB at Bay Area Science and Engineering Fair (BASEF)

Also this week, results are in for this year’s Bay Area Science and Engineering Fair (BASEF) sponsored by ArcelorMittal Dofasco. Westmount secondary students have come away big winners.

Here are some highlights of the results for HWDSB schools:

  • ArcelorMittal Dofasco Pinnacle Best-in-Fair Award: Isabella O’Brien, Westmount Secondary, Hamilton. Aquatic Osteoporosis: Remediating the emerging problem of lack calcium decline
  • Third Place: Samna Aziz, Westmount Secondary, Hamilton. Coral and Legos: Surface modification of polycaprolactone and hydroxyapatite endosseous implant fixture coatings
  • Drs. Ranjan and Monalisa Sur Award for Best High School Project: Isabella O’Brien

High school projects advancing to the Intel International Science and Engineering in Phoenix, Ariz. in May include: Samna Aziz (third in BASEF) and Radhika Khanna, Westmount Secondary, Hamilton. Synthesis of Thermo-responsive pNIPAM-b-HEA Block Co-Polymer Hydro Gels for Drug Delivery Applications.

Sixteen students with top projects will advance to the Canada Wide Science Fair to be held in May in Montreal, Quebec. HWDSB in this group include:

  • Zoe Chisholm, Sir William Osler, Synthesizing silver nanoparticles onto cellulose to create an antimicrobial wound dressing
  • Camila Moran-Hidalgo, Sir William Osler, Synthesizing silver nanoparticles onto cellulose to create an antimicrobial wound dressing
  • Isabella O’Brien, Westmount, Aquatic Osteoporosis: Remediating the emerging problem of lake calcium decline
  • Margaret Williams, Ancaster High, The Role of Fabric in the Prevention of Nosocomial Illness: Environmentally-Friendly Solutions

There were also more great projects at BASEF – visit their website to find more details and descriptions.

In addition, this spring has seen a lot happen on the robotics front.

Orchard Park Robotics Win

You may remember when Rick Mercer visited Orchard Park’s robotics Team 2056 recently to tape footage for the Rick Mercer Report. The episode has aired on CBC TV and features Rick interacting with the amazing OP team and teacher-mentor Stan Hunter. Team 2056 received the Motorola Quality Award and regional win at the Greater Toronto East Regional competition in Oshawa. It was the team’s 23rd consecutive victory at the regional FIRST Robotics Canada competition.

VEX Robotics Kits

Robotics is taking off in more HWDSB schools thanks to CODE funding for 152 VEX IQ Robotics kits, distributed to schools across the board. Kit holders and key teachers (such as those involved in after-school robotics clubs) gathered in January – calling themselves “Team Curious” – to practice. Orchard Park students and staff helped develop ideas and ways to get the most of the kits in schools.

Vex robotics PD day at Orchard park. Photos by Ancaster High teacher Antoinetta Saunders.

Vex robotics PD day at Orchard park. Photo by Ancaster High teacher Antoinetta Saunders.

On March 22, Team Curious hosted more than 60 educators at OP for an amazing day of robot building, coding and curriculum sharing.

“The energy and learning from that day were incredible!” said OP Vice-Principal Beth Woof.

Next, staff will spend time with students as organizers monitor how the project is unfolding. “We are already getting reports that students are eagerly opening the boxes, exploring how the robots can be built, asking questions and imagineering all the possibilities.”

Updated on Thursday, April 28, 2016.
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