Full STEAM ahead

Cape Bre­ton schools among those to pi­lot new pro­gram

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON - BY NANCY KING

Five Cape Bre­ton mid­dle schools are among those tak­ing part in a pi­lot pro­gram where the prov­ince is part­ner­ing with the Dis­cov­ery Cen­tre in de­liv­er­ing ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing in key sub­ject ar­eas.

In all, 17 schools will pi­lot the Driv­ing Dis­cov­ery pro­gram be­gin­ning in Fe­bru­ary. It will in­volve stu­dents in Grades 7 and 8 and will fo­cus on what are re­ferred to as STEAM sub­jects — sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing, arts and math. The pro­gram is in­tended to con­nect with and sup­port new cur­ricu­lum.

The prov­ince will in­vest $300,000 and part­ner with Hal­i­fax’s Dis­cov­ery Cen­tre to de­velop and de­liver the pro­gram.

“We’re work­ing in part­ner­ship with the Dis­cov­ery Cen­tre, who, as most peo­ple in the prov­ince know, pro­vides in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing here in Hal­i­fax and we’re work­ing with them to help bring their ex­per­tise and ap­proach to many class­rooms across Nova Sco­tia so that stu­dents in ru­ral Nova Sco­tia can ben­e­fit from the great pro­gram­ming and ap­proach that Dis­cover Cen­tre has,” Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion and Early Child­hood De­vel­op­ment Zach Churchill said in an in­ter­view.

Driv­ing Dis­cov­ery has been de­signed as a cross-cur­ric­u­lar pro­gram to en­cour­age crit­i­cal think­ing and prob­lem-solv­ing.

Of the 17 schools in­volved, the Cape Bre­ton lo­ca­tions will be Bayview Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre in Port Hood, East Rich­mond Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre in St. Peter’s, Syd­ney Mines Mid­dle School, Bre­ton Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre in New Water­ford, and Sher­wood Park Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre in Syd­ney.

The schools were cho­sen be­cause they are al­ready in­volved in an­other pi­lot cross-cur­ric­u­lar pro­gram. It will be in­te­grated into cur­ricu­lum and will also in­volve ad­di­tional con­tent in the class­rooms, Churchill said.

It was par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant to reach more ru­ral and farflung com­mu­ni­ties which may not have easy ac­cess to the Dis­cov­ery Cen­tre.

“They are go­ing to help us get into class­rooms, do re­ally in­ter­est­ing

Schools in Cape Bre­ton that will pi­lot the Driv­ing Dis­cov­ery pro­gram:

• Bayview Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre, Port Hood

• East Rich­mond Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre, St. Peter’s

• Syd­ney Mines Mid­dle School

• Bre­ton Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre, New Water­ford

• Sher­wood Park Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre, Syd­ney

hands-on projects with groups of stu­dents and fur­ther­more help link the work that the kids are do­ing in the class­room to ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties that are de­vel­op­ing in the mar­ket­place,” he said.

Key to the year-long project will be fo­cus­ing on po­ten­tial ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties, the min­is­ter said. He noted the labour mar­ket is chang­ing quickly.

“We need to do a bet­ter job keep­ing up with these dy­namic pro­grams mak­ing sure our kids are get­ting the most mod­ern and con­sis­tent ap­proach,” Churchill said.

There may be some stu­dents who have an ap­ti­tude for one of the sub­ject ar­eas but don’t nat­u­rally re­spond to the tra­di­tional ways of teach­ing them.

“This is all about help­ing our kids in the mo­ment while they’re do­ing the work, un­der­stand the con­nec­tion to the things they’re learn­ing in the class­room, the projects that they’re work­ing on and ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties that will be avail­able to them one they grad­u­ate and en­ter the mar­ket­place, or go into univer­sity and post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion,” Churchill said.

Once the pi­lot con­cludes its re­sults will be eval­u­ated. The min­is­ter said he be­lieves this is the area in which the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem needs to move and en­cour­age stu­dents to be in­no­va­tors and cre­ators.

“We are thrilled to be bring­ing Dis­cov­ery Cen­tre’s spe­cial­ized learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences to more Nova Sco­tian class­rooms in an ef­fort to help fa­cil­i­tate a deeper ap­pre­ci­a­tion for sci­ence-based learn­ing,” Dov Ber­covici, pres­i­dent and CEO of the cen­tre said in a news re­lease. “Stu­dents and teach­ers will ac­quire new skills and knowl­edge that will build con­fi­dence in all ar­eas of STEAM.”

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