Esquimalt High student gaining STEAM experience this summer

SHAD program offers young people opportunities to practise innovation

While summer vacation has just begun, 1,000 students from across Canada, including Emily Doerksen from Esquimalt High, have just finished their first week at a month-long educational opportunity.

SHAD is an award-winning program focused on enrichment and entrepreneurship in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM). High school students from across the country are selected to attend the program at one of Canada’s hosting universities, though this year even more diversity is added as the program runs at 16 host universities from coast to coast. This year the program runs July 1 to 27.

Nine students from Victoria and the Gulf Islands were selected to attend, and Doerksen is stationed at the University of Saskatchewan.

“It’s been really interesting, and nothing like I have learned in school,” she said during a break from the program’s exercises. “We’re an amazing group of people, we’re so passionate about similar things yet we’re all so different.”

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Doerksen, who just finished Grade 11, first heard of the program from her cousin, who urged her to apply after having a great experience herself.

“I was so excited because I knew SHAD would push my limits in innovation, which I haven’t had a chance to do that at school,” Doerksen said.

In the first week, the 63 students on campus were divided into groups and given two smaller design projects focusing on helping people in northern Saskatchewan who lost their homes in a fire.

Some of the students gathered at the University of Saskatchewan for SHAD. (File contributed)

“We had to use designs with very limited supplies, and we’ve really been getting our ideas rolling with the project,” Doerksen said. “We’ve also had quite a few lectures that were very interesting on things like financial savings and how to be a good entrepreneur.”

The groups were also presented with a large final project that they will present at the end of the program, the theme of which is: building up resilience against natural disasters.

So far the experience has definitely met Doerksen’s expectations.

“Some of these exercises are really putting all of us out of our comfort zones, and I can already feel myself becoming more confident. I’m usually shy and don’t like sharing my own ideas, but in this group we can make amazing things we couldn’t do on our own.”

SUMMER FUN: Minecraft summer camps enhance STEM skills

After the program wraps up, students will join the ranks of nearly 17,000 other SHAD alumni. For Doerksen, this is a stepping stone toward her post-secondary studies.

“I want to pursue something within the field of science,” she said. “I’m not sure which one, and that is also a big reason why I wanted to attend SHAD, because it helps us explore different fields.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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