On a Victoria Day holiday, Central Peel Secondary School is bustling with student activity. It’s active with students who are excited to be there and participating in a wide range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programming that’s fast becoming a notable and successful addition to the curriculum at Central Peel.
Central Peel has been generating international attention and local acclaim for strong showings at various STEM competitions that are seeing their students do everything from build robots to design space stations. New programs are coming on board to satisfy demand and help prepare students with the skills and tools to succeed in STEM-related careers of the future. Plans for a Makerspace at the school is behind new pilot projects launching this year and next. Community and business partnerships are needed to move these programs forward.
Samantha Brace is the Head of Business and Technology and the Specialist High Skills Major program at the school, and has been actively involved in designing and promoting STEM activities and connecting them with the community.
“All of this is very new,” says Samantha. “And we’re not the only ones doing it, but we’re definitely leading the way. We want our community to be part of the exciting things we’re doing, and we need their support.”
Samantha is very excited that Amazon has committed to supporting STEM programming through mentorship and a contribution to their new robotics course. Discussions are underway around the best use of the funds and mentorship arrangements with Amazon employees. In its relatively short time in Brampton, Amazon is building a strong tradition of community support, understanding that the jobs of tomorrow require a strong aptitude for STEM skills. Samantha is writing a course for the 2017-18 school year with a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship – bringing in community and business partners with problems to be solved and challenging students to come up with solutions. Central Peel students have been showing an ability to develop winning solutions.
A NASA (yes, that NASA) competition called the Ames Space Settlement Contest challenged students to design a self-sustainable orbital space settlement. The five-person Central Peel team, lead by teacher Simona Matei, completed a 138-page submission called Transcendence that secured a second place finish in the Grade 12 category, and the only Canadian award this year.
Robotics teams from Central Peel competed locally, regionally and internationally over the course of the year, racking up first place rankings in the region and a third place rank in Ontario. A berth in the World Championships in St Louis, Missouri was the reward for this success, where they finished seventh in their division. Teachers Anthony Griffith and Kevin Ali managed the robotics teams.
Samantha wants to continue to build on these inspirational foundations to develop more STEM programming at the school. “We need partners to stay current, provide experience,” she says. “And we believe with these programs we’re helping produce highly skilled and motivated future employees with an aptitude for technology and strong problem solving skills – right here in Central Peel.”