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Fun-filled Event Showcases Science and Engineering for Grades 7-8

Solar race cars... 3D printers... Unmanned vehicles... Those are just some of the exciting things grade 7-8 students learned about at Shad Valley’s “Design Your Future” event. In celebration of National Engineering Month, the event showcased science and engineering in a dynamic environment. Almost 300 students from five Waterloo District schools attended. The goal was to inspire them to pursue science and technology education and careers.

“Exposing young students to science and technology in a fun and interactive way encourages them to follow these subjects later in high school and university,” said Barry Bisson, Shad Valley’s President. “We want to grab their interest by introducing these students to great role models and real-world scientists engaged in exciting experiments and discoveries. Through seeing live, in-person displays of scientific concepts and applications, students can visualize themselves as inventors of the future.”

Full of dazzling demonstrations and presentations, the event enabled students to experience the magic of science before their very eyes. From special guests like YouTube star and the Perimeter Institute’s Henry Reich of MinutePhysics fame, students learned how science and engineering surround them everywhere and impact everyday things. Other presenters included Google, which showcased how its Doodles work. Christie Digital brought its VeinViewer so participants could peer inside their bodies, and Aeryon Labs discussed its unmanned vehicle, the Scout. ESQ (Engineering Science Quest) hosted a design challenge, using everyday objects like marbles, to help students think like scientists and work together to solve problems.

Other exhibitors were part of the “Interaction Zone” where students were exposed to science in an energetic atmosphere. Kitchener hackerspace Kwartzlab brought its 3D printer, and Martin LaForest of the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) performed interactive physics experiments. Students also saw the Midnight Sun solar race team, University of Waterloo’s Engineering Department, Waterloo Unlimited and Katie Cerar of Enflick. The day’s MC was Stephanie Rozek of National Engineering Month Ontario.

“What’s fun about science is that it’s around us in everything we see and do. If we are curious and investigate our surroundings, we can unearth the reasons why grass is green or how an iPhone is made possible,” says Bisson. “The students we are working with today will make revolutionary scientific and technological finds in the coming decades. Inspiring them now is part of that process.”

Shad Valley’s “Design Your Future” event was made possible by funding from FedDev’s Youth STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Initiative that promotes STEM activities in Southern Ontario. The FedDev funding supports Shad Valley’s programming to increase the innovative and leadership capacity of Canadian youth while focusing on STEM fields. For more than 30 years, Shad Valley has cultivated entrepreneurial thinking in youth with the goal of creating a vibrant and productive economy in Canada.


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~ Jina Nanayakkara (Shad Alumna)