Ambitious program aims to prepare young Canadians for global tech opportunities

Let’s Talk Science president Dr. Bonnie Schmidt (left), along with former astronaut Dr. Roberta Bondar (right), place a virtual reality headset on Emerald Code actress Anwen O’Driscoll during the Canada 2067 launch. supplied

Let’s Talk Science president Dr. Bonnie Schmidt (left), along with former astronaut Dr. Roberta Bondar (right), place a virtual reality headset on Emerald Code actress Anwen O’Driscoll during the Canada 2067 launch. supplied

As Canadians prepare to celebrate the country’s 150th birthday in 2017, one group is already looking ahead to the bicentennial and developing strategies to help ensure that future generations are prepared for the challenges of a rapidly changing world defined by technology and science.

Canada 2067 is a coalition of community and private-sector partners – including Let’s Talk Science, Amgen Canada, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, the Trottier Family Foundation and 3M Canada – that have come together to promote learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). They see STEM as essential if Canada is to keep up with global change and compete for the jobs and business opportunities in the decades ahead.

Bonnie Schmidt, president of Let’s Talk Science, a national charitable organization that is the presenting partner of Canada 2067, says the coalition is setting an ambitious educational goal that will shape and prioritize STEM learning over the next 50 years, culminating with Canada’s bicentennial in 2067.

“Along the journey, we’ll set learning targets, policies and action plans,” she adds. “By fostering innovation, creativity and critical thinking in Canadian classrooms in the years to come, our national vision in support of STEM-based learning will ensure that future generations of students will be positioned for success.”

Current activities include an interactive website, conversations and events with youth and adults across Canada, and a landmark national conference scheduled for December 2017.
Dr. Schmidt says a key goal of Canada 2067 is uniting Canadians around a new vision for youth STEM learning.

“The world is changing rapidly, and there is deep awareness and desire to ensure our youth are prepared to thrive in a world that is increasingly shaped by science and technology,” she adds.

“Excellence – and challenges – are all around us. Because we all have a vested interest in our youth, Canada 2067 is engaging educators, business and government leaders, community groups, researchers, parents and youth to build awareness about talent development and collaboratively develop a learning framework to align our efforts.”

She points out that as innovation in science and technology continues to transform the way we live and work, Canada’s next generations will need a wider range of competencies than ever before to compete, thrive and contribute as citizens and leaders in a rapidly changing world.

“Building from a position of strength, it is important that Canada’s educators are supported and our educational systems continue to evolve to keep pace with an increasingly knowledge-based and technology-intensive global economy – especially as other countries vie to do the same,” says Dr. Schmidt.

She acknowledges that the traditional view of the types of work that result from STEM learning is still a challenge to overcome.

“We need to broaden the perspective and focus on the skills and characteristics that are developed through STEM learning such as problem solving, critical thinking, resiliency and collaboration, and demonstrate how those skills are critical in our world,” says Dr. Schmidt. “STEM skills are needed in all work and all postsecondary pathways – including chefs, welders, early childhood educators, game designers, engineers and so on.”

Canada 2067 is looking at essential elements of systems change and seeking input from all Canadians about their views on the future. It will then consolidate the input from all participants into actionable plans.

“We may not know what challenges and opportunities the coming years will present, but we do know that with a STEM educational background, Canada will be prepared – let’s ensure that happens,” says Dr. Schmidt.


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