SA Science Outreach embarks on 2018 Science Road Trip supporting STEM in Alberta

Family road trips are always memorable. Now, imagine if the parents piloting the family camper were Stacie and Mark Iwaasa – dedicated science teachers whose travelling agenda meant pit stops at some of North America’s most remarkable scientific spectacles!

Then, take those moments and stream/film them so that the science students back in your home town come along for the ride …digitally.


Iwaasa family in the path of totality viewing the Great American Eclipse.

SA Science Outreach is a Not-For-Profit lead by Stacie and Mark Iwaasa who are teachers in the Westwind School Division (with schools from Stirling to Cardston). Stacie is a teacher at the Raymond Junior High School, and Mark a teacher at the Stirling School. And this year – with a little bit of support from Axia – they’re digitally taking their students along for the ride as they embark on the 2018 Science Road Trip across Canada and the US, exploring the environment and sustainable energy, as well as connecting students with experts in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) along the way.

While the road trip destinations are dependent on the limitations of weather and climate, the itinerary is set to be packed full of interesting stops relating to [curriculum connections]:

  • Kitt Peak/Mt. Graham Arizona [Grade 9 Space]
  • Very Large Array Telescopes, New Mexico [Grade 9 Space]
  • Fermilab, Particle Accelerator, Chicago [Grade 9 Space/Electricity]
  • Hoover Dam, Arizona [Grade 9 Electricity]
  • Berkeley Pit, Montana [Grade 9 Environmental Chemistry]
  • USA Largest Solar Array, California [Grade 9 Electricity]
  • Canadian Largest Wind Farm, Quebec [Grade 9 Electricity]
  • Canadarm, Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, Ottawa [Grade 9 Space]
  • North America’s Largest Nuclear Site, Bruce Power, Ontario [Grade 9 Electricity]
  • Dr. Orr, Cape Breton University, Nova Scotia [Grade 9 Environmental Chemistry]

 

Out of this road trip, the team will develop learning packages where appropriate, connected to curricular links found within the curriculum [DIV I-III]; supplement the learning packages with media content linked to solar energy generation in North America, Canada, and Alberta; examine potential careers in solar energy and the educational requirements to apply for those careers; and develop a cohesive virtual learning environment [VLE] to facilitate easier access to the resources, learning packages and assessment tools.”

Additionally, SA Science Outreach is providing additional learning tools and engaging media. Mark explains, “we will provide students and teachers weekly videos on a YouTube channel and additional personalized videos to students, distributed by classroom teachers. Resources, lesson plans and activities will also be provided, linked to both the curriculum and our activities.”

But their efforts don’t stop there, further learning starts after the road trip; SA Science Outreach will survey schools and make follow-up visits to understand the impact of their efforts. Including, but not limited to course enrollment data comparisons to assess success and determine the need for more activities of this type.

When Axia received word of this initiative, we were more than happy to Sponsor the team. As an organization of innovators and problem solvers, we partner with some of Canada’s most impactful charities and non-profits to meet challenges in healthcare, education, and sustainability. We strive to be a positive and responsible community partner leveraging our company’s advancements in technology to solve local and global social problems, and are a proud sponsor of SA Science Outreach.

By bridging the gap between students and scientists they hope to make “science engaging and real to the students.” While this program is unique, and likely the first of its kind, it is needed. With the digitization of the economy, proliferation of technology, and the adoption of internet connected devices, STEM careers are on the rise. What’s more, STEM fields tend to provide better earnings when compared to Business, Humanities, Health, Arts, Social Science, and Education (BHASE) careers, according to Statistics Canada (StatsCan).

Another positive outcome of embracing, teaching, and training youth in preparation for STEM careers at an early age, is the hope that these fields can become more diversified. Today, “[w]omen are always less likely to choose a STEM program, regardless of mathematical ability” says StatsCan. While conclusions for why this gap exists are largely speculative, experts say that stereotypes play a significant role, according to this CBC News article.

Targeted and engaging STEM education, as well as encouraging both young women and men to feel empowered to pursue these careers are part of the solution. And we couldn’t be happier to see local educators at the forefront of this challenge. Please join us in congratulating the team at SA Science Outreach, the Westwind School Division, and the Alberta Government for their innovation in and dedication to improving education in STEM fields!

To follow SA Science Outreach’s journey, visit their website at www.ScienceRoadTrip.ca, and make sure to subscribe to their YouTube channel @Science RoadTrip.

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