Written by Samuel MacTavish, a 2015 Galbraith winner from Wilfred Laurier University.
At the end of high school, I started working at University of Waterloo’s “Engineering Science Quest” – a summer camp for elementary students focused on increasing interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). This job allowed me to integrate my love for science, experimentation, and learning with my passion for working with children. Eventually, it led me to pursue a career in education
When I started my first practicum placement, I noticed that students did not have the opportunity to do much science in a week. The school board I was working for recommends 100 minutes of science in a 5-day cycle (6.7% of the week). Although it is possible to integrate science into language and math classes, it doesn’t leave a lot of time to do pure, risk-free, mucking about in science.
I had a very supportive school community, and I knew I wanted to start some kind of student club, so I decided to bring my science camp background and the arsenal of engineering activities that came with it to my school in the form of a club for junior students. As luck would have it, another teacher on staff had also been thinking of starting a science club. Together, we were able to create what became the “Junior Science and Engineering Club”.
The club turned out to be a huge success – with up to 50% of eligible students attending on a regular basis. Students would meet during nutrition break for a short mini-lesson, and then complete either an experiment or a design-and-build challenge related to Ontario Science curriculum. We also posed weekly challenges for students, such as writing a “polymer poem”, creating a labeled scientific drawing of a flying machine, or designing a poster promoting hand-washing to prevent the spread of disease. The winners received small science-related prizes the following week.