Full STEAM ahead
Cape Breton schools among those to pilot new program
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.”