York science camp serves as a pilot for a new creativity, design and innovation camp

York’s Faculty of Science brought 73 young people to the Keele campus this past summer to learn about innovation and the business of science and engineering. Through its Science Explorations program, the Faculty served as the pilot site for a new Creativity, Design and Innovation Camp called “Big Ideas”.  The Faculty of Science was recognized for its contributions to the pilot at an event on Sept. 27 at the University of Toronto.

Big Ideas was developed through a partnership between Actua and the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity at the University of Toronto, and funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). The program grew out of the belief that innovation is at the heart of an education designed to develop the next generation of business-savvy, science-literate entrepreneurs.

“This is an investment in innovation and in our youth,” said Gary Goodyear, minister of state for FedDev Ontario at the recognition event. “Our government is pleased to support projects that provide our young people with the tools they need to reach their potential – in innovation, in research, in business, and in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] careers. They will ensure southern Ontario remains competitive and prosperous for years to come.”

“We were thrilled York Science was selected to be one of the pilot sites” said Trevor Cuddy, director of student and academic services in the Faculty of Science. “It was a real vote of confidence in our ability to deliver high-quality and high-impact STEM outreach programing. K to 12 outreach is a key long-term strategy in our Faculty in recruiting the next generation of York science students.”

Science Explorations at York worked with Actua members at three other Ontario pilot sites at the University of Toronto, McMaster University and the University of Ottawa. The curriculum was designed to introduce campers to design thinking, a key tool successful entrepreneurs use to innovate and create new ideas. Campers learned to use empathy to identify specific user needs and make improvements or changes to everyday tools and technologies. With their knowledge of science and engineering, campers designed low-resolution, stage-one prototypes that captured innovative solutions to real world challenges. They then developed unique business strategies to make their ideas come alive.

Actua is a network of 33 members at universities and colleges across Canada that delivers hands-on STEM programming to 225,000 youth in over 450 communities.

The Science Explorations program reached over 6,000 youth in the summer of 2013 through its summer camp and in-school workshop programs.