STEM Groups at School and Beyond!

STEM Groups at School and Beyond!

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By Erin Rebello

If you’re anything like me, you’re interested in just about everything STEM related! From books to movies to school subjects and more, I absolutely love STEM! You’ve probably heard of this catchy acronym before and may be wondering what all the hype is about. STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, is an emerging stream of study that has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. With the rise of interest in these fields there comes a generation of kids and teens just like me who want to pursue these subjects in the future. Some may say that it is imperative that we learn more about these subjects for our future evolution depends on it.

Although it can be difficult to gain experience in fields like healthcare or engineering, there are a select few clubs and extracurriculars that allow students to get involved with STEM. By taking part in these experiential opportunities, students will be able to gage if the field is right for them. As an added bonus most universities and programs in STEM value this sort of extracurricular experience, and some even offer scholarships for individuals who have won awards in these extracurriculars.

One excellent STEM extracurricular is FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), which is an annual international competition involving building, programming, and driving robotics. Every year, FRC teams are given a specific challenge that they must complete in an arena. These challenges are usually quite thematic, and have involved a steampunk race, video game competition, and a space mission. FRC is for high school students, but if you’re in elementary or middle school, you can join the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) for a similar experience. These extracurricular activities are great for anyone interested in engineering, as it allows for students to get a head start at building, programming, and operating robots. FLL and FRC teams can either be formed within schools or communities, so if you’re interested, be sure to check around your area!

 Another great STEM opportunity is SHAD. SHAD is a one-month STEM immersion experience during the summer of grade 10/11. This program allows students to study and board at one of 19 university campuses that are partnered with SHAD, including McMaster University, Carleton University, University of British Columbia, etc. By exposing interested students to new ideas, a wealth of information, and like-minded peers, it’s no wonder the SHAD experience has been described as life-changing by many. Although SHAD can be expensive, there are a variety of bursaries offered based on achievement and financial need.

If you’re into math, the University of Waterloo’s math contests may just be for you! Offering a number of math contests for just about every age range, it’s hard to get any better than this! Their “Gauss” contest is designed for grade 7 and 8 students, but they have even more contests for students in grades 9-12, including the “Cayley”, “Pascal”, and “Euclid” contests. If you prefer to work in a team and have a friend or classmate who’s just as interested in math as you are, you might also want to take part in the team competitions. Whatever the case, the University of Waterloo probably has a contest fit for you!

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