Symbiosis STEAM Learning Ecosystem in Prince George

By Amanda Smedley | The Exploration Place
December 17, 2018 - 11:08am
Jaclyn Baxter, Tech-Up Facilitator at the Exploration Place with an Ozobot.
Jaclyn Baxter, Tech-Up Facilitator at the Exploration Place with an Ozobot. Photo Credit: Exploration Place

Since late in 2015, Exploration Place has had the pleasure of working with Science World British Columbia through a strategic partnership aimed at ensuring science outreach happens beyond the lower mainland. One of the initiatives that has grown out of this partnership is Symbiosis, a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art + design, and math) Learning Ecosystem, the first of its kind in Canada. The mission of Symbiosis is to build collaborative partnerships across British Columbia with diverse individuals and communities committed to cultivating a sustainable STEAM Learning Ecosystem with equitable access for all learners.

Symbiosis is part of an international umbrella organization, STEM Learning Ecosystems. STEM Learning Ecosystems provide the architecture for cross-sector learning, offering all young people access to STEM-rich learning environments so they can develop important skills and engagement in science, technology, engineering and math throughout pre-K to grade 12. The vision of Symbiosis is for every learner in British Columbia – regardless of geographic location, ethnic or cultural background or family income – to have access to an interlinked web of STEAM learning opportunities within five years.

Why is this important? We live in a time of unprecedented change where technological changes are rapidly transforming our communities and the face of the Canadian economy. Knowledge-based jobs that require high levels of literacy in STEAM fields are taking over. It is estimated that two thirds of children entering elementary school today will later be employed in careers that don’t exist yet. Of those jobs, 80% will require STEAM literacy.

Most major centres in Canada have different organizations that engage youth in STEAM activities. Unfortunately, most of these organizations operate in isolation from one another, and fail to be scaled evenly across both urban and rural areas. A major objective of Symbiosis is to address this need and help the next generation find new pathways, wherever their curiosity may lead them!

What does this mean here, on the ground, for us in Prince George? Symbiosis makes these subjects accessible to kids. It shows them how these subjects can be fun and interesting, and how they relate to the world around us.

We offer a number of different free programs to youth that allow them to engage in real world, hands-on STEAM with experts in these fiends and learn from these experts in a relaxed environment. One such event is our Symbiosis Workshop Series. This free event has a different theme each month, and we encourage intergenerational learning between youth and their accompanying “big person” (who can be an older sibling, parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or friend)! Participants spend ninety minutes exploring the evening’s topic (so far, we’ve explored entomology through pond insects, and navigation through orienteering) along with community engagement staff from the Exploration Place and an expert in the topic from our community. Our next Symbiosis Workshop Series takes place on December 12th where we will explore the world of tiny robots! Participants will learn how to use block coding to make tiny robots called Ozobots dance! Afterwards, we will set the tiny robots loose for an epic dance battle!

The Symbiosis Workshop Series will continue to be offered as a free monthly event in 2019. Join us on January 23rd for a STEAM Night Challenge to engage your critical and creative mind; and, again on February 20th for an introduction to coding! Registration is always free through our bookings: [email protected]

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