In the not-too-distant future, the children running around in our school’s playgrounds are going to be out in the real world, running businesses and conducting the STEM research that leads to the next generation of breakthroughs that change our world.

Encouraging young innovators

“Technology is a game changer in the classroom, but it must be designed to improve learning outcomes, while protecting the privacy and security of our students,” explains Marc Seaman, National Director of Education and Public Affairs, Microsoft Canada.  “In addition, the classroom should equip students with technological skills that are relevant to future employment and the pursuit of entrepreneurship.”

For young innovators, it’s never too early to start developing the talents that will give an early advantage over their entrepreneurial counterparts. “The ability for students to work online and offline, the ability to use touchscreens to write and absorb information, and the ability to take notes and shape a student’s own learning environment are fundamental to a rich learning experience and impactful outcomes,” says Seaman.

“Technology is a game changer in the classroom, but it must be designed to improve learning outcomes, while protecting the privacy and security of our students.”

Brad McCabe, Executive Director at Youth Science Canada, believes that by embracing STEM projects, students in grades 7 through 12 will learn some important lessons that will hold them in good stead throughout their adult lives.

“When students are performing experiments, iterating and creating new innovations, success is not automatic,” explains McCabe. “They realize that everything that they do isn’t going to work, but that they can build on what they’ve learned to overcome the problem they encountered — that’s a great skill to have.”

Investment in the future

The youngsters who are currently in grades 7 through 12 have great potential to drive future innovation through STEM, and it’s our responsibility to ensure they learn and develop the adequate skills to succeed in an incredibly advanced future. “When you look at the number of the careers that currently require STEM as part of the job, it’s roughly 70 percent,” says McCabe “So, having a basis, confidence, and understanding in STEM, and particularly having a hands-on understanding, is hugely beneficial to their future success.”

Creating the spaces and infrastructure that will enable young people to drive innovation through STEM costs money, and specialist STEM and science fair project programming isn’t tied to the regular school curriculum in any of the provinces.

“Funding is important; it’s that assistance from our partners that enables us to deliver STEM programming,” says McCabe. “For us to be able to support the youth STEM infrastructure, that comes down to individual, government, or corporate support. Without financial support and grants there would be a lot of programs in Canada that simply wouldn’t exist.”