The Importance of STEM Organizations: My Experience
Article by Maryam Sheikh
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had an interest in science and technology. While these interests stemmed from all the science classes I took throughout elementary and middle school, a lot of my STEM learning came from external sources. There have been many experiences and organizations that have promoted my involvement in STEM, two of which I’ve highlighted below.
Let’s Talk Science
Some of my fondest memories of middle school include the Let’s Talk Science Challenge that took place annually for Grade 6-8. Each year, my school would recruit a group of students who would study topics ranging from earth sciences to space sciences in preparation to compete against other schools in the GTA. This team based challenge event was enriching and informative, all while fostering a safe and welcoming learning environment. Not only was I able to learn high school level science during middle school, but I was also put into a setting where I developed my collaboration and teamwork skills. On the day of the competition, I was able to make friends with students from other schools and gain a glimpse of a typical university campus, as the competition took place at the University of Toronto Mississauga Campus. Being able to participate in such a unique program really did prepare me for high school and quickly became a highlight of my middle school experience.
Last summer, I had the opportunity to attend the Learning Enrichment Advancement Program at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. LEAP was established in 2005 and has since attracted many students interested in the various fields of science, technology and engineering. Run by the faculty of Engineering, the summer program has various streams that appeal to a wide range of students. From Science 101 to Computer Science & Software Engineering, there is bound to be a stream that will interest incoming participants.
For students curious about campus life, there is an option to live on residence for the duration of the program. Also, the program encourages female participation by offering full scholarships which can be applied for through their website.
During my time at McMaster, I participated in the Science 101 stream. Each day, I was able to learn about biology, chemistry, and physics through a variety of ways. I had the chance to participate in workshops led by professors, go tours at the campus greenhouse, and perform experiments in the laboratories. Additionally, I was mentored by current McMaster students and was able to gain insight on university life.
Overall, the program furthered my interest and love for science- it was a beneficial 2 weeks and I walked away with a deeper desire to learn more about the world around me.
I would highly recommend this program to any high school student looking for a fun and educational summer experience!
I can safely say that my experiences with Let’s Talk Science and LEAP were both key learning opportunities that motivated me to take senior level math and science courses in high school and have also contributed to me heavily considering a future career in science. It’s integral for young students to be exposed to STEM fields early on in their lives so that they get opportunities to explore all that is included in these vast and fascinating fields. These are just two organizations that make STEM learning accessible within the GTHA; there is an infinite amount of knowledge out there and there are numerous ways to get involved in different communities.