When people think of STEM: science, technology, engineering and mathematics, they may think the program is designed for "techies", but on a recent visit to Templeton Secondary before spring break, teacher Carl Janze explains many students entering into the program now are less aware about computer hardware components than students that entered into the STEM program 10 years ago. This is due to factors such as devices getting smaller and are therefore less accessible to tinkering.
"I've been teaching this for over a decade and when I first started, that was what kids had to do, take apart a computer and put it back together again and that interest has waned when the movement shifted from desktop to laptops. Most kids are used to computers being a black box. So having access to this environment and seeing the relationships between all these different devices is an important learning experience," shares Janze.
The program is therefore a great opportunity for students to still get the chance for some hands-on work with hardware - that they can take apart and modify. This may include building a computer using old hardware equipment to creating smart devices using engineering starter kits.
STEM projects at Templeton Secondary also support students to understand the basic components and sensors that make up many of our digital devices.
To learn about sensors and how to read and interpret the information they output, a Grade 9 class recently worked on a project that monitors the environment of an external greenhouse.
These projects help students demystify the tools we use every day such as our mobile phones that comes with more than a dozen different sensors that many people seldom stop to think about.
Watch the video to learn more of what class time looks like with groups of students collaborating on projects.
The program has grown from a class of 23 students in the year 2013 and today there are 125 students with classes from gr 8-12.
Hear from students about what drew them to the program.
Besides learning about computer science, a bigger component of digital literacy is how students learn to source learning materials. Below is a video of Carle and Mike having a conversation about what digital literacy means in education and how being in a tech-infused environment change teaching practices.