Making Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics the core of a new high school course offering begins.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

March 12th, 2018



STEM is an acronym that refers to Science Technology Engineering and Math. The Halton District School Board (HDSB) is going to put an I in front of the acronym to get ISTEM and introduce a new program for grade nine students that will start at the Aldershot High School on 2019

These programs gives highly motivated Grade 9 students the opportunity to delve into 21st Century issues outside the confines of a traditional classroom.

Project Based Learning logoWith the guidance of qualified teachers, students will simultaneously explore related topics by examining real-world issues through interdisciplinary project-based learning; they will identify the issues and topics that matter to them, and then they will conceive, design, and build potential solutions to these challenges. Civics and Careers will be integrated into these inquiries, allowing students to achieve extra credits.

Which credits will be gained?

Grade 9 Science
Grade 9 Math
Grade 9 English
Grade 9 Technology
Grade 10 Civics (half credit)
Grade 10 Careers (half credit)

How is this accomplished?
Qualified teachers in these subject areas will work together to identify the principles, skills, and competencies, that are universal across their disciplines. These overlapping concepts will be taught concurrently, when possible, through project-based, discovery learning. As well, students will still have the opportunity to experience two elective credits along with their required compulsory credits.

What type of learner will be successful in this program?

Successful students will require the following skills:

Creative Thinking
Time Management
Problem Solving
Aptitude in Math and Reasoning
Inquiry and Inquisitiveness
Independent Self-study

How many students will the program be able to accommodate in September of 2019?
The space capacity at Aldershot is 1018 students: 588 secondary students and 460 elementary students.

The decision to turn part of the secondary program at Aldershot high school into an ISTEM program means the board staff have to begin the really hard work of creating the course content. The Superintendents know what they want it to be – now they have to design the content, hire and train the teachers and upgrade some of the classrooms.

Blackwell + Tuffen as a team

Superintendents Terri Blackwell and Gord Truffen during a presentation to the Halton District School Board trustees

The assignment that is now in the hands of Superintendent Terri Blackwell and her team. They have more questions than answers at this point. The biggest thing they do have is clear trustee approval, the budget they need and a very clear objective with highly motivated people.  This is a teaching assignment that many of the best teachers in the Halton board are going to want to be a part of.

Who will be working with you on the course content?
The people developing the content have to work within the parameters of the Ontario curriculum. The community was a large part of making this happen – now that it has been approved the Board staff will be returning to the community for additional input.

Where will the students come from?

The expectation is that some will come from Hamilton, some will come from the private school sector and some will transfer from the Catholic Boards.

Exactly where? That won’t be known until parents with elementary students moving into the secondary level have those “what do you want to study in high school” conversations.

The Board expects to do a lot of marketing and community outreach on this one.

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