Girl using a 3D printer


Providing youth and their families with free online STEM workshops

Oct 25, 2021

In 1991, the University of Ottawa’s engineering department started offering STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) workshops and summer camps for youth. Focused on computer science and technology design, the curriculum encourages kids to explore the world of coding using software called Scratch. 

 “My stepson loved learning how to use Scratch and has been playing around with the software and creating new games ever since. I am really impressed. The introduction to coding session was a great introduction to this tool.”

As the department grew into a full-time team, its outreach expanded beyond the University of Ottawa’s campus. Team members began working directly with schools, eventually supplying over 42,000 students with technology to support their programs.

Additionally, the team launched its Maker Mobile program, which eventually conducted over 1300 workshops around the province. Equipped with the latest technologies, these mobile teams introduced fun, hands-on learning activities that complemented school curriculums in schools, libraries and community centres.

Thanks to a TELUS Friendly Future Foundation grant, the Maker Mobile team was able to continue offering its workshops virtually throughout COVID-19 and hosting virtual family events designed to showcase to parents how their children were learning unique skill sets. 

“The teachers were very patient and kind, providing a safe space for children to share. They were helpful when it came to navigating the platform. The teachers were attentive and did their best to answer all questions, providing excellent explanations and using real situations that all could comprehend,”said a parent who attended a family workshop.

There was good energy, and the children were very engaged in their learning experience, which was nice to see. We shared some good laughs, and the length of the workshop was perfect!"

By funding virtual youth and technology programs like Maker Mobile, TELUS Friendly Future Foundation helps open doors for students across the province who are at risk of not having access to technology.

Having the opportunity to present free workshops to our community, especially to at-risk kids, is primordial, even more during this pandemic time. This is only possible through the support of our sponsors, such as the TELUS Friendly Future Foundation. The popularity of our free workshops shows that parents are looking for educational content on digital literacy and technology. Having these digital skills will be essential for the future workforce, as technology is now present in every sector of our life. If we can inspire kids to develop their coding skills, be curious about technology and learn to use it in new ways, we can say “mission accomplished!"

- Julie Olivier – Maker Mobile coordinator at the University of Ottawa’s Engineering Outreach Office

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