Earlier this year, the Ontario Ministry of Education released the new Grade 9 de-streamed science curriculum. The k2i academy at the Lassonde School of Engineering was selected by the Ontario Ministry of Education to develop classroom-ready resources to support teachers across Ontario. After months of work, the new resource is now available.
The k2i academy team has been working alongside publicly funded school boards to implement innovative programs that seek to dismantle systemic barriers to opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The Ontario de-streamed Grade 9 science curriculum has connections to skills in engineering design and coding.
This brand-new teacher resource, now available online, provides recommendations for implementing this curriculum. Thanks to this resource, teachers will be able to provide students with more opportunities to learn about the many possibilities in STEM and STEM-related fields, helping them make more informed decisions about their future. De-streaming Grade 9 and integrating STEM learning into the curriculum is also crucial to support human rights, equity, diversity and inclusion in Ontario education.
“As an engineering and science school, we’re well equipped to share the latest skills and knowledge in many areas that can be integrated into teacher resources, building on the expertise of our K12 education sector partners,” says Jane Goodyer, dean of the Lassonde School of Engineering. “Ontario’s new curriculum includes engineering design and coding, focusing on STEM careers and pathways, to encourage students to become scientifically literate global citizens. We’re very excited to work alongside K12 educators and system leaders in ‘Bringing STEM to Life.’”
These new resources were created for all educators in Ontario, covering 72 publicly funded school boards, 10 school authorities (including four geographically isolated boards and six hospital-based school authorities), one provincial schools authority and one consortium. More than 42,000 high school teachers will now have access to these resources, benefitting nearly 150,000 students in Grade 9.
The resource website provides a guided experience for educators that highlights the importance of inclusive practices that engage all learners in the classroom. It contains recommendations and connections to Ontario’s curriculum policies and provides an integrated experience that enables educators to customize the tools and resources for their professional needs. The website also provides recommendations for ensuring that program design includes considerations in equity, diversity and inclusion and student-centred approaches to design. Inclusive learning environments enable all learners to see themselves in the curriculum.
“We are excited to release a resource that was created with collaborators with a commitment to continuous improvement,” says Lisa Cole, director of programming at the k2i academy. “We are curious about how this resource will evolve as we work across Ontario to inspire our future innovators, creators and problem solvers. At k2i academy, we strongly believe that we design with people and hope to continue to model this iterative process alongside educators in Ontario.”
In total, five activities will be released throughout the next few months by the k2i academy. These activities have been designed to be interdisciplinary, where STEM skills, careers and connections are introduced and integrated throughout. The Earth and Space Strand in Space Exploration activity provides an exciting interdisciplinary context to explore concepts in physics, chemistry and biology. It is a thrilling time in space exploration in Canada with recent announcements on space missions by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) including the Lunar Gateway led by NASA, and the Canadian HAWC (High-altitude Aerosols, Water vapour and Clouds) mission to help predict climate change.
The teacher resource will provide connections to real-world problems, profile the work of diverse STEM professionals, and inspire students to create solutions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). The activities include hands-on learning using electronics and Micro:bit to integrate engineering design, coding and digital literacies within the program.
A collaborative approach was used to develop the resources. The k2i team worked closely with Bryan Bellefeuille, high school mathematics and Ojibwe language teacher in the Algoma District School Board, to build opportunities for deep collaboration with Indigenous communities. k2i academy Program Officer Vanessa Ironside also worked closely with Grade 9 and 10 science teachers during the 2021-22 school year to test a variety of activities within the classroom, which helped inform the development of these resources.
“The activities were designed in collaboration with educators to provide a student-centred learning experience in science,” says Ironside. “Students can use their own interests and passions to solve real-world problems in a way that connects with them. This provides a space to welcome student experience and identity into the work.”
By using this new teacher resource developed by the k2i academy team, classrooms can become inclusive learning spaces where all students can engage in science. Engineering design, coding, scientific research and scientific experimentation will happen through hands-on learning experiences in the classroom.
In addition to providing these brand-new resources, k2i academy is working with partner school boards to offer additional professional learning for educators.