Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics camp, also known as STEM camp, is now available to youth in Brantford for the summer. Held on the Wilfrid Laurier University Brantford campus, STEM camp aims to help inspire students to continue in STEM studies with hands on projects.

“We are educating our future for post secondary and career options,” explained Drew Fallowfield, Program Coordinator and STEM Camp Director.

Run by Partners in Research (PIR), a Canadian charity, Fallowfield explains how successfully this educational program has grown. “We ran a pilot last year in Woodstock and it was a great success,” further explaining how camp length doubled as well as the number of children attending, and camps expanded to 14 locations.

“Brantford is a good fit, and with Laurier being a partner with PIR through September to June,” continues Fallowfield. “It’s a good fit, right in the middle of other locations.”

During the school year, PIR powers Virtual Researcher On Call (VROC) program, one out of the three educational programs. This program is a support tool focused on certain topics to help encourage students to follow higher education in STEM studies. VROC does this by connecting students with academic researchers from across Canada using videoconferencing technology. Sprouting from VROC, the STEM camp layout is similar with more hands-on general-level STEM activities.

“For example, little Johnny in grade six doing an ecology project in school can talk to an ecology professor and get a direct answer from a reliable source over google-ing it,” explains Fallowfield. Students now have access to direct professional sources while getting a taste of what professors and post secondary institutes are like. Speaking with an academic professional, kids now can converse over the topic and better understand and interpret the matter over blindly reading about it online.

According to PIR’s website, pirweb.org,

“The primary Goals and Objectives of PIR:

a) To communicate to the general public the benefits of medical and health research and the contribution being made by Canadian scientists to that research

b) To provide forums for the general public to discuss the problems and concerns related to medical research for the purpose of developing an informed public

c) To act as a resource to the media to obtain information and opinions on the subject of animal research; and to prepare educational materials on animal research appropriate for the general public and classroom use.”

Fallowfield mentions how there have been flyer drops in elementary schools; advertising through local media, magazines, camp books, and camp publications with hopes to see PIR grow more. Currently active in Ontario, Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, PIR is working its way to expanding across the continent. High school volunteers can get their hours signed off and participants can take part in STEM activities such as extracting DNA from a banana, Fallowfeild hopes PIR will “keep doing what they’re doing.”

Four one-week camp session begins July 7, 14, 21 and 28. “Anyone who wants to lend a hand, anyone is in the area, come check it out,” Fallowfeild says, “(anyone is) More than welcome to come hangout in the room.”

For more information visit: http://www.pirweb.org/pir/en/

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