Developing STEM partnerships to encourage innovation

Makerspace camp at the University of Ottawa

Today I visited for the first time the makerspace at the University of Ottawa.  I was there to talk about ways our school could work with the Engineering Department at the university. I met with Dr. Hanan Anis and one of her students, Danielle Taillon.  They are in the process of developing a mobile maker space that will be ready for September to visit schools in our area.  

Already they have ideas on specific workshops that can be offered at our schools.  They include:

 Introduction to laser cutting

a.     2D to 3D (harder)

Using a 2D drawing, the participants will create a 3D birdhouse. They will be able to unleash their creativity by customizing the design while learning the different functions of the laser cutter

b.     Name Tags

Each participant will create a custom name tag pendant of their own design.

2.   Introduction to 3D printing

Participants will be split into groups and tasked to design a product that will be a solution to a defined problem.

3.   Arduino Programing and Vectors

Students will be tasked to program their robot to recreate a specific drawing by telling the robot to follow a series of vectors. 


This is the kind of partnership we need to move ahead with our makerspaces.  What we are really looking at are ways to bring STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) into our elementary schools.  The only practical way to do this is to form partnerships with people like Dr. Anis who are willing to think outside the box and link the university to our elementary schools. 

We don’t hear as much talk about STEM or STEAM (just add the arts – an equally important component) here in Canada, but I believe it is the  direction we need to move in.  

Our kids need to learn coding, they need to learn how 3D printers and laser cutters work and most of all they need to create and innovate.  This was so important in all the workshops we attended last week at the DENSI (Discovery) conference in Washington.  

The message was clear, we need to allow our students to innovate, create, inquire and build.  We need to get away from static, unchanging curriculum and open up to the possibilities outside the conventional classroom.

This partnership promises to do that.  It offers the possibility of training our teachers on how to use new technology effectively, it opens the door to coding clubs and workshops in the schools or at the university so students can learn to create and innovate.  

Partnerships are the way of the future, whether it is with Google, the University of Ottawa, local innovators or high schools, we all need to start thinking outside the box to explore the possibilities collaboration will allow.

the Makerspace at the University of Ottawa – they hope to have a mobile version up and running by September