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May 2018


Robots and Pencils Tracey Zimmerman

The Importance of Lea Randall





Meet Educator Sarah Beairsto

Science l Technology l Engineering l Mathematics

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“With breaking hearts we send strength and love. We are so very sorry for your great loss.” - STEM Education Today’s Team

“You woke up that morning to win a game... but instead, you united the world.”

- Anonymous

About STEM Education Today STEM Education Today is a free resource that provides a platform where everyone can become a part of an ever-growing network of global innovation and change! A note from our Editor-In-Chief, Dr. Gina Cherkowski

How did STEM Education Today come to life? As a Social Justice STEM Educator and Innovator, I am on a mission to ensure all students have access to high quality STEM learning experiences so they are aptly prepared for our technology- driven, dynamic world. Parents, teachers and community members are seeking ideas, resources, and inspiration so that they too can join this empowering movement. STEM Education Today is helping to expand academic focus on STEM , STEAM, and Making and invites everyone to learn, share, and create.


Robots & Pencils - Tracey Zimmerman


Meet Sarah Beairsto


The Importance of FROGS

- Educator Feature

OUR TEAM Editor-in-Chief Publisher Co-Publisher Editor/Chief Motivator

Dr. Gina Cherkowski Krista Malden Wayne Carley Tracy Beairsto

- Lea Randall

Special thanks to:


STEM Learning Lab’s Team Colours on the Move

Lea Randall Wendy Hutchins / Kitchen Science


Starting a Journey...

Meet Kimberly Chigbo

Tracey Zimmerman Sarah Beairsto Charlie Cheung

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Mount Royal University

- Calgary Campus Open Minds Kitchen Science

- Wendy Hutchins

Copyright 2018 STEM Learning Lab Inc. All Rights Reserved. To receive a free monthly electronic issue of STEM Education Today, please contact:


Artificial Intelligence

- Charlie Cheung

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WOMEN IN STEM Tracey Zimmerman, President of Robots & Pencils

The path we take as we pursue our career goals can take us to many places, with twists and turns in an ever-widening travel area which is often as mind-expanding and character-building as it is geographically-challenging. For Tracey Zimmerman, her path took her from computer programming in high school, a full turn to pursuing education in nursing to a U-turn back into coding, web development and then ever-increasing and broader marketing and management responsibilities at various organizations. It only makes sense that she would find that Robots and Pencils continue to be an important part of her journey.


Computer science may have been her backup plan, but she became so interested in the career aspects of this field that she took technology courses at the local community college to ensure she was building on what she had already learned. While she didn’t finish a formal university degree, Tracey quickly became proficient with programming and took her first job as a programmer analyst with Siemens Medical Solutions. This position had her serve as the primary contact to several hospital IT departments for the software she supported, which honed her tech and customer service skills. After discovering web programming, her interest led her to learning what she could online, teaching herself through available books on the subject, learning programming languages and developing web-based technical solutions to enhance customer experiences and execute marketing campaigns. While a freelance web developer, Tracey took a contract with Fleet Boston Financial that became full time, joining the new eBusiness team at a time when the term “eBusiness� was being defined. As part of a cross-functional team and then later as part of the marketing team, she began to learn more about business and became more interested in marketing, management and leadership development, eventually taking on project lead and technical/business liaison

roles. After Bank of America acquired Fleet Boston, Tracey decided to focus her job search on business analyst roles where she could use her tech skills to drive web initiatives to create new business opportunities. While working at EDMC, an operator of for-profit post-secondary educational institutions in the U.S. and Canada, she became Director of Web Strategies and Operations and was promoted into a variety of Vice-President roles, which included Student Experience & Innovation, as well as Student LifeCycle Management & Marketing Operations. Continuing to prove herself to be a very talented and technical business leader, Tracey became President of Robots and Pencils and has been in that role for almost three years. As Tracey created a career blending science and other disciplines, it only made sense that she would then become a leader in a company whose mandate is built on that combination. She is responsible to provide leadership and guidance to the cross-functional Delivery Team, comprised of “robots” (developers), “pencils” (user experience architects and designers) and a group called “ampersands” (product/project/program management, quality assurance and customer care). Her focus is corporate and client success. Robots and Pencils (R&P) is a digital innovation agency. R&P helps their clients use mobile, web and frontier technologies, such as AI, machine learning, bots and blockchain, to transform and future-proof their organizations. Co-founded in 2009 in Calgary, Alberta by Michael J. Sikorsky and his wife Camille Sikorsky, R&P began as a fast-rising app development firm (it brought the Spy vs. Spy game to app

users and developed an app to allow anyone to make an app – just a few examples of its earlier development work). The company has rapidly grown in vision and direction, believing that in the age of unprecedented technology acceleration, maintaining a competitive advantage requires new strategies and a focus on innovation. Today, R&P also has a presence in London (UK), New York, Austin, Denver, San Francisco, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, which is Tracey’s home base. R&P has created more than 300 custom software solutions used by more than 77 million people worldwide. Tracey leads approximately 200 staff worldwide as the agency has grown to become a trusted strategic partner to some of the world’s best brands. What Tracey finds fun and most interesting in her work is the creation of transformative experiences for users so that customer care can be provided at a more meaningful level, providing better customer support for less cost and with less frustration for all parties engaged. She also enjoys cross-functional learning that can bring lessons gleaned in one sector into another. When asked about one of her favourite projects so far with R&P, Tracey mentioned a product called, a conversational analytics assistant. With, you can ask questions of your data and the software will respond in a similar fashion to a chat interaction – aside from being a text-based interface, it uses machine learning to search a data set and provide conclusions to users. It allows you to visualize your data, drill down for deeper insights and generate complex reports quickly. As a parent challenging educators, Tracey offered, “At the end of the day, we want to make sure that we teach students to learn. Technology has outgrown the tech industry so whether you think you work in technology or not, the changes are going to impact your work.” It is


thought that about 80% of the jobs that will be needed in 2030 don’t actually exist today, so we must prepare our kids for this by teaching them to learn and giving them the toolsets (ways to learn, mentoring, activity groups, motivational techniques) to become reliable self-learners while at school and beyond. Building character and teaching ethics are also extremely important, especially in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning where the rise of the use of bots and as we have recently seen in some organizations, the manipulation of data and users, is creating outcome experiences that are negative and harmful to individuals and societies. Tracey feels that these issues highlight the importance of “culture” – R&P strives to build a company that will be in business for 100 years and have at least 25 employees who work for the company for at least 25 years – but, wait, this doesn’t sound like a “leading edge, 21st century” company anymore does it? Isn’t job and company loyalty an old, dead concept? Character, ethics, how people work together are also part of a company’s “culture” – as Tracey explained, “If you don’t meet the cultural ethos, you don’t stick.” – R&P plays the long-game and “this hopefully incentivizes us to do the right things for the long run. As technologists, we know that there is no real digital privacy. Log files can be pulled – how do you think people figured out what was happening with Facebook, for example?” “Trade-off ” management is also another very useful skill for students to learn and to understand the effects and results of making certain choices and decisions. Tracey believes that teachers have opportunities to teach not just with technology and about technology but to also give guidance, model and instruct youth how to think about the appropriate use of technology as something that is critical as students choose careers.


“As teachers embrace the tools and technology available today in their work, it will give them more time to do the things they can uniquely do, like build relationships, help guide students not just in their studies but in how they approach life,” continued Tracey – this is why she feels that encouraging students to be life-long learners is so important. Life-long learning is about curiosity and inquiry – to not stop asking the questions, and as she said, “to put something down and walk around it with a 360 view.” Her favorite quote, “Fire bullets then cannonballs.” is from “Great By Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos and Luck – Why Some Thrive Despite Them All (Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen). This may sound somewhat provocative, but it supports the advice she would give youth who want to be part of, and become innovators in, the technology industry – or in any industry for that matter – “test and learn.” Try small things and when you see them starting to work and if it works for you, make the bigger investment. You try a lot of things when you are a kid … not knowing what will work for you, not even knowing what the experiment is all about or that it is really an experiment of risk, but when you find something that you can be interested in, then grow that passion. Tracey believes that teachers need to experiment and learn, suggesting arranging a videoconference with a class far away, and reaping the rewards of firing those bullets by investing in those relationships and cross-cultural learning. A next step, the cannonball, could be an in-person exchange program. Sometimes you are not sure of the target, but if you can hit one and find that it inspires you, perhaps you can see good results that bring out the best in you. You can’t always wait until you are sure either, sometimes there is a risk in taking that “shot” so to speak. “Look for the small wins and break things down into smaller, easier

pieces, test and learn with the latest information,” advised Tracey. “Failure is often more of a ‘not yet’!” Accessing your creativity and imagination, “optimism and grit – the willingness to hang in there and to get back up when it’s hard and to try again and to not be afraid of failure” is also extremely necessary in Tracey’s view. She believes that parents and teachers need to reinforce these messages. Tracey believes technology and process automation have grown economies in new ways and have created more jobs than have been destroyed. However, the path to entry-level jobs is now not as clear as it was in the past as technology is changing so rapidly. “I used to be able to say go get that degree and then go get that job, but that world is now over,” said Tracey. Technology is now starting to make what humans do more important than what the machines can – while a lot of data can be dealt with now and information more rapidly presented, you are still going to want a human to help “process” what that all really means. As an example, Tracey noted, “We can ask ‘where is my widget selling the best’ and the answer may be ‘Edmonton’, but if we ask ‘why’, the technology cannot necessarily answer that question for us even if it can draw conclusions. Perhaps it is because Edmonton’s population is growing and more people are available to use the product, perhaps our marketing campaign was more effective there, there could be many reasons and it takes people to take data and make sense of it.” Tracey feels that I am a better decision-maker because of all of the things that I do in my life and my other interests – my family, music, arts, technology, education,” taking a more holistic view of life and work. Tracey continued, “Riding my bike also helps with how I think about business. Also, I feel that curiosity is extremely important. If people I am interviewing aren’t asking questions or curious, I am not sure that

they are going to thrive in our environment.” As an enthusiastic and curious life-long learner, Tracey definitely walks the talk. As if all of this wasn’t challenging enough for Tracey, she is “very fortunate to be the mother of seven children” who range in age from three years to twenty-four! When asked about raising different generations in one family, the children “all have each other, they have fun together, but of course, my husband and I do work very, very hard” to help us all create the positives and bonds in such a large family. Tracey obviously has a lot of fun doing whatever she is doing, so when asked about what she looks forward to each day, she responded “to help people and learn to do new things every day. It couldn’t be a better world.” Fun Facts about Tracey Zimmerman l Tracey is married to her amazing husband, Brett, and she loves being outside with her family. l She enjoys long-distance cycling. l She loves to read – reads about a book a week, often on Audible. l

Her favorite color – blue.


She enjoys watching the “Silicon Valley” series, which she says barely seems like fiction for those like herself who work closely with startups.


Teacher Feature - Meet

Sarah Beairsto

Teacher at Maple Lane Elementary School, Richmond, B.C.

“It’s not what the world holds out to you, but what you bring to it.” A quote from Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. “I love this quote because I think it sums up how I try to live my life. What you make of your opportunities, the effort, humility, empathy and passion you espouse and how you respond to others is so much more important than what you are given.” - Sarah Beairsto

Sarah Beairsto has spent her entire career of 12 years with the Richmond School District in British Columbia, teaching Grades 4 to 7. Currently, she is teaching Grades 5 and 6 at Maple Lane Elementary School. Sarah has always been a classroom teacher but also enjoys taking on various roles such as mentoring new teachers, working with technology with her students, becoming involved with school district committees, as well presenting at professional development days. Sarah has also consulted for a number of publishers in the education industry, including Nelson Education. Sarah is always looking for ways to improve education, mentor other teachers and make a difference in her students’ lives. In 2014, Sarah received a Master’s of Education from Simon Fraser University.


Last June, Sarah got to attend ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) 2017 in San Antonio, Texas, with over 16,000 other educators, proving to be another career highlight. Some questions for Sarah: Why did you become a teacher? “I think I’ve always known I would become a teacher, but I didn’t want to admit it until I tried a few other options first! Luckily, I participated in the co-op program in university so by the time I had finished my bachelor’s degree I had had the opportunity to try out many of the fields that interested me, and I knew for certain that teaching was my calling. I always loved

working with kids and helping people and these are obviously both important qualities of a teacher. However, probably the biggest reason I became a teacher is because many of the most important influences in my life were my teachers. I figured that if I could positively impact just one kid the way I had been impacted by some of my teachers then I would have been successful.”

depth. I hardly use textbooks anymore at all, rather I try to build learning opportunities that encourage the students to develop skills they will need to engage in STEM fields such as collaboration, a sense of wonder, problem solving and communication. I’m not sure it’s a matter of incorporating STEM into everyday teaching because STEM is my everyday teaching! We always have some sort of inquiry on the go that incorporates STEM.” What is your favorite STEM or STEAM project you have done this year with your students? “My class, along with the Grade 6/7 class at our school, participated in the Global Cardboard Challenge last fall (https://cardboardchallenge. com/). What I love about this challenge is that there is truly no wrong or right way to engage with it. It’s about accessing your creativity and learning to work collaboratively with others. Plus, the students had such passion for the project that they were incredibly motivated to step outside their comfort zones and challenge themselves, not because I asked them to, but because they wanted to.”

How do you incorporate STEM into everyday teaching? “We are so lucky in B.C. to have a recently redesigned curriculum that makes incorporating STEM simple. Our curriculum is based on some overarching big ideas that easily mesh across curricular areas both in terms of content and competencies, rather than a long list of specific facts the students must learn. This encourages cross-curricular teaching and learning because instead of covering a wide variety of topics you are covering a few with much greater


How do you keep students excited to learn in the classroom? “I try to pay close attention to what excites my students and build inquiries and learning opportunities around that as much as I can. Almost everything we do is integrated across curricular areas which leads to bigger more complex problems and learning opportunities, but also provides a much richer opportunity for differentiation for various learning styles, conceptual understanding and ways of demonstrating learning. I try to ensure that there are access points for all of my students so that no matter their level of understanding or academic functioning, I make sure we meet them where they are at and work from a place of strength rather than deficit. Plus, I try to have as many opportunities as possible for students to publicly showcase their work. The students are far more excited to learn when they get to share what they have learned with others, whether those are their peers, parents, or even complete strangers.” Do you take your students on field trips? And if so what kind and how do field trips help your students? “I absolutely take kids on field trips! I think it’s so important to get the kids outside of the classroom so they understand that learning opportunities are all around us and that learning is a lifelong pursuit. Whether it’s a quick walk

around our community, a day trip to Science World or three days at outdoor education camp, field trips are fabulous learning opportunities. I try to organize field trips that are opportunities for the students to experience something that they would not normally be able to do on their own. For example, a few years ago I had a parent who was a fisherman. As part of our focus on renewable and non-renewable resources, he invited the class to come visit his boat and the docks, learn about the different kinds of boats and even how to repair nets. We live in Steveston, which is an old fishing village and the docks were a five-minute drive from our school, yet none of my students had ever set foot there let alone knew much of anything about the realities of being a fisherman. Parents are such a valuable, and often untapped, support for unique field trips. I still have vivid memories of a field trip I got to take when I was in Grade 7. Thanks to a parent’s connections, our class got to visit a genetics lab at UBC and meet Dr. Michael Smith, Nobel Laureate. We drank Kool-Aid and learned how different gene mutations reacted differently to something in the Kool-Aid. I had little idea at the time what it meant to win a Nobel Prize, but what I do remember is that Dr. Smith was so passionate about science and answered all our questions with such enthusiasm, even if a few were probably slightly silly as can happen with the Grade 7 crowd! Plus, I thought the machines in his lab were fascinating!”

Self Directed Learning Member of the CCSDL Canadian Coalition of Self-Directed Learning

Our Students:

• Take Ownership

in the historic Currie Barracks

• Initiate Learning

• Develop Character

• Engage in Community

• Children benefit from flexible schedules, blended programs and a full time 10:1 ratio in a multi-aged setting from pre-school to Grade 12. • Students enjoy project-based learning where the classroom expands into the world through field trips, volunteerism and internships. • Students’ academic programs are built around their innate curiosity, interests, abilities and needs, focusing on exploration, opportunity and relationships. • Students develop personal organization and purposeful learning skills.

“Social Studies. I was fascinated by government and how people interact. Consequently, I went on to earn a bachelor’s degree majoring in political science with a minor in history.” What’s your involvement with Girl Guides?

What’s next on your list of “to dos” for life and career? “Next on my life “to do’s” is having a baby in July and taking a year off for maternity leave. I love being a classroom teacher and am so excited about the changes in education in B.C. with the new curriculum and a revised assessment model being deployed over the next few years so honestly, I have no particular interest to leave the classroom. However, one day I would love to work as a teacher consultant in my district, mentoring and supporting other teachers, or work at UBC or SFU as a faculty advisor teaching and mentoring teacher candidates.” Why did you pick elementary school to teach? “I love that in elementary school I get to connect deeply with 30 students and their families. I get to know each as a learner and a young person and our relationship becomes the central component in their learning. I also love that I get to teach all subject areas so I can integrate everything as fully as possible and help students understand connections between disparate areas by focusing on the big ideas that connect across the curriculum.” What was your favorite subject when you were in school?

“I have been a member for over 30 years. I started as a Brownie when I was 6 and have continued ever since. I completed my Chief Commissioner’s Gold Award (the highest Girl Guide award) and then have continued as an adult member in a variety of capacities. Most recently I was a Ranger leader (leader for girls in Grades 10 to 12) and special events director for SOAR 2017, an interprovincial and international camp held last summer in Smithers, B.C. This year, I am part of the district commissioner team for my area and am helping mostly with administrative tasks, but I am also co-director for a week-long summer camp for girl members. It’s an amazing community that has truly shaped who I am as a person. I have met many of my closest friends and mentors in Girl Guides; no matter where I am in the world, when I step into a Girl Guide meeting or event, I feel at home. Plus, I love that Girl Guides gives me a place to mentor and support young girls and give back to my community.” Fun Facts about Sarah Beairsto l “I have been to every province in Canada except Newfoundland (at the top of my bucket list).” l “I have a twin sister, her name is Caroline.” l “I am a huge Vancouver Canucks fan. l My favorite all-time Canuck is Trevor Linden.” l “At some point in my life I have worked for every professional sports team in Vancouver.” l “I have been a member of Girl Guides of Canada for over 30 years.” l “I am a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal.”


Imagine students exploring worlds; finding passion and purpose; inspiring each other; reaching beyond Imagine teachers energized, equipped, empowered; working together; learning along with their students; sharing what if‌ and wow‌!

Competencies for learning and leading

Imagine parents participating with confidence; enriching and being enriched by what the family is learning Imagine leaders inspiring possibilities and sharing insights; modelling, supporting and scaling

Creativity & innovation

New ideas and bold possibilities

Critical thinking

Fresh insights and durable solutions


Partnerships that work


Making sense and expanding perspectives


Reaching higher and growing stronger

Culture & ethical citizenship Sharing what we value

Computer & digital technologies Transforming how we learn and lead

Imagine a new generation... Explore the 7Cs at

Biologist Lea Randall Explains The Importance of


With no television or other similar distractions, Lea had plenty of time for reading as well as the opportunity for quiet reflection along with explorations and observations of nature. When Lea began to travel she realized that not every place was pristine with healthy ecosystems and wildlife populations like she had grown up with in northern Canada and this discovery led to her growing interest in conservation. The beauty of nature inspired Lea to study fine art at Grant MacEwan College. A love of science and a desire to pursue her career further led Lea to return to university. She received her B.Sc. in Biology from the University of Victoria and received her M.Sc. in Ecology from the University of Calgary. Her master’s thesis focused on the impact of forest disturbance on little brown bats. She worked for the Yukon Department of Environment and NatureServe as a wildlife and habitat technician which gave her the opportunity to work on a variety of projects including monitoring bats and other small mammals, birds, insects, elk, wolverine and pine marten.

Biologist Lea Randall M.Sc. “The one thing taking science in university teaches you is how to learn and find information. Once you know that you can apply those skills to almost any topic.” - Lea Randall

Lea Randall, M.Sc., is a population ecologist

and has worked at the Centre for Conservation & Research at the Calgary Zoo since 2011. Her primary research now focuses on the population dynamics of northern leopard frogs in Southern Alberta and the reintroduction efforts for this species in British Columbia. Born in a small mining town and raised in the wilds of the Yukon; Lea spent a portion of her adolescent life living in cabins in the bush without running water or electricity. Transportation was provided via a dog team and sled.

Lea didn’t deliberately choose to study and work with frogs, but when the position came available at the Calgary Zoo, Lea realized she had all the qualifications for this job. “Through my work experience and education, I had gained extensive fieldwork experience in remote locations, experience driving in off-road conditions, towing a trailer, using many different kinds of scientific equipment and computer programs, data analysis skills, and so on,” explained Lea. Lea Randall thinks frogs are important! As a result of her current work, Lea feels it is vital that we understand the importance of frogs in nature. The reasons include: l Our earth is experiencing a biodiversity crisis: an estimated 40% of all amphibian species are threatened with extinction.


l We use frogs in research and as medicine sources for antibiotics and cancer therapies (due to their ability to show freeze-tolerance and regeneration, for example). l Frogs control populations of insects and other invertebrates, some of which are serious pests or carry disease. l Frogs are also an important prey species for many predators. l Frogs play a central role in linking terrestrial and aquatic food webs. l Frogs act as indicators of overall ecosystem environmental health by showing the effects of UV radiation, climate change and pollution. l Frogs are a source of food in some countries. l Amphibians contribute to ecosystem integrity (the loss of a few species may not seem to be a problem at this time, but you never know which species extinction could lead to a catastrophic loss of ecosystem function).

l Tadpoles can limit algae growth and oxygen depletion, which can cause death of other wetland species. l Frogs are valued spiritually and aesthetically in many cultures. Lea understands and works to teach others what frogs, in particular, can tell us and teach us about our natural ecosystems. She has a fun and exciting job that changes every day in an environment where she can surround herself with animals, research and science. This all leads back to her upbringing as a kid and her love for the environment, and all of this inspires her amazing artwork! Lea Randall’s advice to students: “If conservation biology is something you are interested in it can be a tough field to get into as there is a lot of competition and few positions available. If you want to be a conservation biologist then you will need to stand out through your education, work, and field experience. Going to grad school definitely is a step in the right direction, as is doing a research or honors project. For a conservation biologist position

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at the zoo we would typically be looking for someone with a M.Sc. or PhD with conservation-relevant experience. Even the summer field technicians we hire often have a M.Sc. in Biology or Ecology (and we often get hundreds of applicants). To gain fieldwork experience you may need to first volunteer or take some field courses. I would also recommend working as a research assistant for a grad student doing field work (working as a research assistant looks better on a CV than volunteering or taking field courses). If you are thinking of going to grad school, it is a good idea to try and get on as a research assistant at a lab that you might be interested in doing grad research at, as it allows you to get to know the lab and the people and see if it is a place that you might like to be as well as allowing the lab/supervisor to get to know you. Recommendations: sign up for job alerts on sites like Indeed and when you see jobs that interest you, look at what qualifications they are looking for. See if you can job shadow a person that has a job that you think you would like so that you

get to see what the day-to-day job is actually like. Sometimes it is more important to realize what you don’t want to do than to realize what you do want to do as it can save you a lot of time and money.” “You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be. It’s their mistake, not my failing.” - Richard Feynman “This quote resonates with me because I think you can spend a lot of time and energy trying to live up to the expectations of others and ultimately you will be unhappy,” says Lea. She knows that you must create and live up to your own expectations to go forward in life and she has certainly shown that even when you set those expectations of yourself high, success follows naturally with hard work, commitment and passion for the work that you do and the life that you lead.

a CV than volunteering or taking field courses). If you are thinking of going to grad school, it is a good idea to try and get on as a research assistant at a lab that you might be interested in doing grad research at, as it allows you to get to know the lab and the people and see if it is a place that you might like to be as well as allowing the lab/supervisor to get to know you. Recommendations: sign up for job alerts on sites like Indeed and when you see jobs that interest you, look at what qualifications they are looking for. See if you can job shadow a person that has a job that you think you would like so that you get to see what the day-to-day job is actually like. Sometimes it is more important to realize what you don’t want to do than to realize what you do want to do as it can save you a lot of time and money.”

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“You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be. It’s their mistake, not my failing.” Richard Feynman “This quote resonates with me because I think you can spend a lot of time and energy trying to live up to the expectations of others and ultimately you will be unhappy. “ says Lea Randall. Lea knows that you must create and live up to your own expectations to go forward in life and she has certainly shown that even when you set those expectations of yourself high, success follows naturally with hard work, commitment and passion for the work that you do and the life that you lead.

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Colours With this fun experiment, children will play with and see colours moving in different ways and learn how colours form using different types of solutions as their base. While milk is mostly water, for example, it also contains minerals, proteins and tiny amounts of fat. Fat and proteins are sensitive to changes in the surrounding solution of milk.

on the Move zoom to the edge of the plate. When you hold the cotton swab down longer, the color should swirl up from the bottom of the plate. When you touch the food coloring at the edge of the plate, the color should move around, mix, and make cool designs.

Ages: 6-10 years old Materials • Deep plates, 2 depending on group size • Food colouring • Q-tips • Milk (whole or 2%) • Dishwashing soap Directions after the number of each step Step 1 Pour some milk onto the plate to just cover the bottom. Step 2 Gently add one or two drops of red, blue and yellow food colouring, in the same spot in the centre of the milk. Step 3 Dip the Q-tip into the soap, then gently touch the centre of the food colouring. Do NOT stir! Step 4 Push the Q-tip down in the same spot, all the way to the bottom of the plate and hold it there. Step 5 Dip a new Q-tip in the soap. Then touch different areas of the food colouring along the edge of the plate to see if the colour will move again. What to expect: The first time you touch the food coloring with detergent, the color should

Extension Activities/Challenges Repeat the experiment using water in place of milk. Will you get the same eruption of color? What kind of milk produces the best swirling of color, skim, 1%, 2%, or whole milk? Why? This is the basis of a great science fair project as you compare the effect that the dishwashing soap has on several different liquids. Do you see any pattern in your observations?


OUR GOALS Increase the percentage of high school girls planning to pursue STEM careers Increase the percentage of young women pursuing undergraduate degrees in STEM fields Increase the percentage of women staying and advancing in STEM careers Don’t miss our next

Bring -A-Girl-To-STEM Day! Saturday, June 9, from 10 a.m to 12:30 p.m. Cost: $5 For more information:

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Starting a Journey...

Kimberly Chigbo

Meet Kimberly is currently a first-year Electrical Engineering student at the University of Waterloo and an intern at STEM Learning Lab. Let’s get to know Kimberly: What do you hope to accomplish once you are finished school?

“Working for STEM Learning Lab allows me to apply my engineering background in the work environment through design thinking, prototyping, troubleshooting, assisting in application testing, coding, as well as creating curriculum,” stated Kimberly. “Currently, I have been exposed to programming, robotics, gaming, virtual and augmented reality, video editing, different technologies, social innovations, and website development. And I believe by the end of my term, I will be able to develop skills in technology, communications, problem-solving, creativity, and leadership.” Kimberly Chigbo is an inspiring young woman with a future in engineering, mentoring, education and innovation. She has a passion for helping people on a community and global level. She continues to grow her knowledge of technology, engineering and innovation and is always looking for an opportunity to put it all together.

Growing up in a developing country where there was little to no exposure to technology, structures or electricity, I have always wanted to discover solutions and solve global issues related to the conservation of energy. I want to be able to harness energy for human benefit through various applications and technologies such as telecommunication, digital electronics, computing, and software. One of my major goals is to develop technologies that can reduce the consumption of energy and promote energy efficiency in our society. While pursuing my engineering career, I also want to become an advocate for encouraging more women into the STEM fields. What got you interested in the STEM fields? From a young age, I have always been fascinated about structures surrounding me and take interest in how different technologies are constructed. One of the major reasons for pursuing a career as an electrical engineer is due to my interest in technology and love for helping others in society. My passion for engineering didn’t grow until I began to get involved in school clubs, such as my high school robotics team, where I was able to work in a team setting to analyze different world issues, design devices to solve different problems, become creative and learn to think critically. I am passionate about engineering because it is not only exciting, it also gives me an opportunity to become an innovator.


What do you do outside of school and work? I enjoy volunteering my time at different design teams, clubs, and events in order to gain rich and invaluable design experience, to build great technical and transferable skills, and to grow my connections with others around me. Some of these teams are Engineers Without Borders, Waterloo Rocketry, Women In Engineering, and Plasp Childcare Service. I love hiking and also running for my school’s track and field team. Overall, I love working on new ways to improve my skills during my free time.

WORLD CLASS TRAINING SCHOOL OF ALBERTA BALLET Offering non-competitive programs for dancers ages three to adult, and accredited academics and artistic training for students preparing for a professional dance career.

Registration for Summer Camps and Fall Programming now open. WWW.SCHOOLOFALBERTABALLET.COM

An exceptional educator for children age 3 – grade 6 Our adaptive model of educational supports different learning styles to ensure that every student is capable of achieving their personal best.

We offer: Low Student to Teacher ratio

Dedicated specialists in Phys. Ed, French, Drama, Music & Art

Coding across the curriculum in partnership with STEM Learning Lab

Innovation and Entrepreneurialism: developing the skills for creative problem solving integrated within the curriculum, including a 1:1 iPad program in Grades 4- 6


Mount Royal University hosts STEM Learning Lab’s Calgary Campus Open Minds. “You won’t believe the memories you’re creating for these children,” said Grade 3 teacher Christine Salhab.

Sunnyside Elementary School Teacher Christine Salhab and her Grade 3 class joined STEM Learning Lab’s Calgary Campus Open Minds Social Enterprise School. The students, teachers and volunteers were excited to use the Riddell Library and Learning Centre that was donated for the week by Mount Royal University. The students were trying to solve the problem of “access to education in low-income countries where students have to walk long distances to get to school.” They used design thinking to come up with solutions using Lego. They began designing Scratch stories based on the experiences of the students they watched in the documentary (“On the Way to School”) in order to enlighten other students at their school about the story of these children. They also designed posters and used maker supplies to make artifacts to represent the countries they were studying.


During the week the kids got a chance to have a Skype visit with Laura Lucier, M.Eng. P.Eng., CO55/PLUTO Group Lead of NASA headquarters, to discuss what inspired her to work at NASA and how NASA solves problems. According to the creative director of transformative learning and director of CCOM, Zibusiso Mafaiti, the kids enjoyed the week and had great things to say like:

“This place is so cool I want to come to university here.” “I love the blue couches.” “Why do the university students keep looking at us?” “This is the funnest day of my life!”

Mount Royal University

Laura Lucier, M.Eng.

HOME SCHOOL PROGRAMS North programs: l Ages 5-8: My Pet Robot (May 14-June 4 - no class on May 21) - 1:00-2:30 PM l Ages 9-12: Bot Buddies (May 14-June 4 - no class on May 21) - 3:00-4:30 PM South programs: l Ages 3-6: Science Creations (May 14-June 4 - no class on May 21) - 10:30-11:30 PM l Ages 5-8: Robot Creation with Lego WeDo (May 14-June 4 - no class on May 21) 1:00-2:30 PM l Ages 9-12: Prosthetic Design with Lego Mindstorms (May 14-June 4 - no class on May 21) - 3:00-4:30 PM l Ages 12+: Art/Tech Mashup (starting May 17) (May 17-May 31) - 5:00-6:30 PM To register, visit: For more information:

HOME STEM LESSON Recipe for one person: l 1/2 cup sugar l 2 1/4 cups flour l 1/8 tsp. all spice l 2 cups water l 3 eggs l 1 Cornish hen l 2 tsp. salt l 1/2 tsp. pepper

Math I use everyday. Assignment: Four people are coming for dinner. l Re-calculate recipe

Yes, you will use math (usually easy math) everyday. Don’t be afraid of it. Your brain is actually wired for it.

Kitchen Science by Wendy Hutchins The Calgary Zoo has welcomed some special visitors! Four giant pandas are here getting used to their new home at the Zoo and we will get to see them starting in May. Pandas are bears. Although they are carnivores or meat eaters like other bears, more than 90% of their diet is bamboo. Most of the other types of bears we know, like black bears and grizzly bears, eat much more meat than pandas. These other kinds of bears also eat berries, but it turns out that they have a very hard time digesting plants, so they wouldn’t be able to eat the panda’s bamboo. Let’s see what we can explore and learn about the digestive system with some experiments you can do in the kitchen (with the permission and help from your mom and dad, of course)!

Digestion: the process of breaking down food by mechanical and enzymatic action in the alimentary canal into substances that can be used by the body. Experiment 1: Digestive System Process Step 1: We can explore the first part of the digestive system process pretty easily: we can help make dinner! Schnitzel is meat (chicken, veal or pork), usually thinned by pounding it with a meat tenderizer or meat hammer, and which is usually then breaded and fried. Pounding the meat flat with the meat tenderizer is pretty much the same job that your teeth do to help you digest your dinner. So, to properly aid your digestive system, it is best to properly chew your food!


Step 2: Next, let’s take two small bowls, two saltine crackers (or one broken into two), some water, a spoon and some iodine. Crumble up one cracker into one bowl and add water until just covered. Chew the other saltine without swallowing it. Get it good and mushy and pay attention: Does the cracker taste sweeter as you chew? Spit out the cracker mush onto the spoon and put it into the other bowl. Add enough water to equal the other bowl and cracker and stir. Let both bowls sit for a few more minutes. Now add some iodine. * Iodine turns really black when there is starch present. (Starch is what we find in flour and veggies like potatoes.)

What happened to the cracker you chewed? The starch is gone! It has been digested by an enzyme in your mouth called AMYLASE. Amylase breaks starches down to sugars (and that is why the saltine starts to taste sweeter). Enzymes are workhorse proteins that we and plants make to help us break down our food and to build up our bodies.

Experiment 2: Discovering more about enzymes Hydrogen peroxide can help you explore an enzyme that plants have called CATALASE. Take a pea pod or green bean or slice of red pepper and mush it up with a fork. Split your mush into two and place each pile into a small bowl. Have mom or dad pour some boiling water onto one of the mushed veggies and wait for it to cool down. Drain off the water. Now add some hydrogen peroxide to your two bowls. What’s happening? Catalase breaks the peroxide down into hydrogen and oxygen (two gases) and so you get the bubbles.

*In the sample that was boiled, the veggie got cooked, thus the catalase protein got cooked and no longer works. Catalase is part of the reason why we quickly cook veggies (blanche them) before freezing. Blanching helps to preserve the taste and color of vegetables that have been frozen.


Experiment 3: JELL-O Another easy experiment involves one of our favorite foods – Jell-O! Help mom or dad make some Jell-O in small bowls. Put a piece of fresh pineapple on top of one.


What happens to the Jell-O? Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain and that enzyme breaks down proteins – which is what gelatin in your Jell-O is. We have a lot of similar enzymes in our digestive tract breaking down all of the proteins and other foods that we eat.

The next time you are at the Calgary Zoo and you see the pandas chewing on their bamboo and enjoying their meal, you will now know the “bear” necessities of how digestion works!

ANIMAL passion animal SCIENCE starts on the


Butterfield Acres DAY CAMPS 3 -14 yrs

fun. experience. connection.

SUMMER CAMP Registration online at


Artificial Intelligence: Should we start welcoming our robot overlords? By Charlie Cheung

As humans, we are defined by our experiences and personalities. The uniqueness of everyone is what makes each of us, well, human. How we act, react and interact, these actions vary depending on who we are and what we’ve learned from our past - but what about machines? Machines can complete tasks that might take humans a much longer amount of time, and at a faster rate, but can they truly be considered intelligent?

Ever since humans have created machines and robots, scientists and researchers have dreamed of a day when these creations can learn and think as human. In 1955, John McCarthy coined the term ‘artificial intelligence’ or ‘AI’. McCarthy believed that every aspect of intelligence can be broken down in such a way that a machine can be made to simulate that aspect. At its core, this is the goal of artificial intelligence.

The best way to answer the question of “what is artificial intelligence?” is to break it down into its two components. What is “artificial” and what is “intelligence?” At what point do we consider something to be artificial and what really defines a being as intelligent?

Let’s go back in history to the beginnings of artificial intelligence. In 1950, famous mathematician Alan Turing came up with a way to test if a machine was truly intelligent. Turing kept a person inside a closed cell who was to receive written answers to questions posed to a human being and also to a machine. This person, the interrogator, was tasked to find out which was the human and which was the computer based on how they answered his questions. If the interrogator couldn’t guess within a fixed timeframe who was the human, the machine would be considered intelligent. This is known as Turing’s test. The official threshold for passing the Turing test was that to be intelligent the machine had to fool at least 30% of a group of interrogators. It wasn’t until 2014 when Eugene Goostman, a computer program simulating a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy, convinced 33% of human judges that he was human – “Eugene” became the first computer program to pass the Turing test! Since Eugene was programmed to be a 13-yearold Ukrainian boy taking the Turing Test in English, it would be understandable for him not to be able to answer everything without errors of language and cultural interpretation.

John McCarthy


Alan Turing The simplest examples of this type of intelligence is found in some of the devices we now carry around with us every day. On iPhones, Siri acts as a personal assistant we can summon with our voice. At home, we have devices like Google Home and Amazon Alexa. Amazon uses AI to predict what product or service a user might want to buy and Netflix is able to predict which movies we would like based on our previous choices of film through that service. Already, our lives are intertwined with AI and that makes life much more interesting and much more fun.

As we move onwards in science and technology, this idea of “thinking” and “learning” robots is quickly becoming a reality…. so when should we start welcoming our robot overlords? Would they like cookies or microchips? As humans, we are set apart from other species by our creativity, imagination, and tenacity for improvement. Computers are better at math, repetition, and memory. Before we get too ahead of ourselves, let’s consider how much more development is needed in artificial intelligence before robots will be able to overtake us in terms of more truly human qualities. There is still a long way to go before computers can seem believable, expressive, and creative! The power of artificial intelligence should not be something we fear but something we celebrate as an understanding of how we think and feel. Who says we must create robots to rule us? Should we not think to create robots who can help us?


We have only scratched at the surface of truly understanding artificial intelligence. To fully comprehend the magnitude of intelligent machines, we need to understand natural language processing, machine learning, and many more areas of computational research. Robots of the future don’t have to be the scary overlords that Hollywood imagines them to be. The development of AI inspires us to improve the technology we work with. Our strength as humans comes from our ability to empathize. If we are to make something that is more human-like, should we not strive to create the most empathetic machine we can?

Grades 7 to 12

Be Bold.

Be Brave.

Be Ready.

OWN YOUR FUTURE West Island College Calgary 403.444.0023 7410 Blackfoot Trail S.E. ®


West Island College Calgary


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STEM Education Today (May 2018)  

STEM Education Today is a free resource that provides a platform where everyone can become a part of an ever-growing network of global innov...

STEM Education Today (May 2018)  

STEM Education Today is a free resource that provides a platform where everyone can become a part of an ever-growing network of global innov...