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Inspiring youth

Designing and delivering STEM programs to N.L. youth

By Jackey Locke

The Memorial Engineering Outreach (MEO) office is delivering on the demand to make science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs more accessible to youth.

MEO was established in 2013 with support from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.

“MEO strives to make interactive STEM experiences more accessible to youth who may not otherwise be engaged,” said Kathryn Hong, co-ordinator for outreach activities. “Our goal is to inspire youth to discover the impact they can make with futures in STEM.”

Introducing STEM programs to children is important in a technology-driven world, but for the program administrators it’s also about striving to make Newfoundland and Labrador more sustainable.

Workshop participant making ice samples.
Workshop participant making ice samples.
Photo: Submitted

“Not only do we want young people in our province to be engaged and inspired by their potential in STEM, we hope when they are ready to embark on their careers they will choose to stay in their home province,” said Ms. Hong. “We believe this will ultimately create a more innovative and sustainable Newfoundland and Labrador.”

On- and off-campus offerings

In 2013 MEO delivered three on-campus programs during the summer months for youth ages nine to 18: Girl Quest, which explores STEM subjects in a fun and interesting format for nine to 12-year-olds; Robotics and Junior Engineers, which uses LEGO’s Mindstorm EV3 system and other engineering activities for ages nine to 12; and ArcticENGINEER, an enrichment program designed for high school students.

Now in its sixth year, MEO currently offers on- and off-campus programming year-round.

Camp participant eagerly awaiting for her 3D printed object.
A camp participant eagerly awaiting for her 3D printed object.
Photo: Submitted

In addition to Girl Quest and Robotics and Junior Engineers, other summer programs include Teen Circuit and Explore Engineering. Year-round programs include public engagement events, school workshops, faculty tours, weekend clubs, an annual open house and other special events.

“Due to tremendous interest in our summer camps, we now offer multiple sessions of three of our on-campus programs, and will introduce an exciting new program this summer called Nano Engineers for youth aged 6-8,” said Ms. Hong.

Camp participants learning about iceberg towing
Camp participants learning about iceberg towing
Photo: Submitted

In 2016 MEO became a member of Actua, allowing for the participation of more than 100 youth in Labrador each summer as part of the Labrador Outreach Program.

Actua is Canada’s leading STEM youth outreach network representing 35 university and college-based members. The organization focuses on the engagement of underrepresented youth through specialized programs for Indigenous youth, girls and young women, at-risk youth and youth living in Northern and remote communities.

Actua has provided funding to MEO as part of the federal government’s CanCode funding. MEO also received funding from NSERC’s PromoScience program, industry partner HMDC for Girl Quest and RDC for Arctic Engineer.

“It’s an exciting time for MEO, said Ms. Hong. “We are grateful for opportunities to partner with larger organizations and look forward to the positive impact that we are making in our community.”

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