STEM Camp receives calls from elementary schools across Ontario every year to deliver STEM workshops in schools. It is a challenging request because STEM Camp, as a not for profit, does not have funds to support such an initiative. However, in 2019 we were successful in our application to the New Horizons for Seniors Program to fund such an initiative. The project was unique in that it involved seniors (aged 50+) and elementary school-aged students doing the activities and learning together.
Seniors from communities all across Ontario volunteered to design and deliver a coding and robotics program in elementary schools across the province. The project involved students from kindergarten through to grade 5. The aim of the project was to bridge an academic gap between seniors and youth in that robotics is an emerging field with which both age groups may not have much experience. The project provided for youth and seniors to learn about robotics together; thereby filling a learning void in both age demographics. When seniors delivered the workshops they were working directly with students, but learning together. It was a fantastic experience for all involved.
In total, three hundred (300) STEM workshops in schools took place in a one year time span; and it was incredibly successful judging by the feedback received from teachers, students and the seniors. The project is an example of how society’s stereotypical view of a ‘senior activity’ (playing cards and light fitness) does not do this age group justice. Seniors are the hidden gems in our society because of their wisdom crafted through years of experience. Their knowledge is an incredible resource waiting to be utilized to its full advantage.
Seven thousand, seven hundred and thirty (7,730) students in Ontario classrooms would agree.