Mobile learning lab to bring STEM and skilled trades to youth across the region

A first-of-its-kind mobile learning lab will be rolling into Ontario this summer and heading to Bruce and Grey Counties.

This unique learning experience will help students explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) thanks to strong leadership in South Bruce and Huron-Kinloss and the communities’ work with the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO).

(L) Alana Murray, Director for the BWDSB, Jan Johnstone, Board Trustee Chair, Dave Barrett, Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program Coordinator/Facilitator, Mark Goetz, Deputy Mayor South Bruce, Laurie Swami, President & CEO Nuclear Waste Management Organization, Mitch Twolan, Mayor Huron-Kinloss & Bruce County Warden and  Michael Bethune, Superintendent of Education

With the help of trained staff, this fun, informative and hands-on mobile learning lab will help provide more opportunities to more students to explore and consider a future career in the skilled trades and STEM fields. This new lab will increase opportunities for students from Grade 7 onwards to engage with these dynamic topics.

The lab is expected to officially start rolling in the summer of 2019 across the Bluewater District School Board (BWDSB) & Bruce Grey Catholic District School Board (BGCDSB). It is expected to reach over 20,000 students in 50 elementary schools and 11 secondary schools.

The lab will initially consist of simulation software and technology, including:

  • a welding simulator
  • a crane simulator
  • an excavator simulator
  • a loader/back hoe and dozer simulator
  • STEM simulation software
  • 3D printing and robotics

The learning opportunity was developed thanks to partnerships between the BWDSB, BGCDSB, Four County Labour Market Board, Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program and the collaborative efforts of the Township of Huron-Kinloss, Municipality of South Bruce and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization.

Leaders in Huron-Kinloss and South Bruce recognize the important role the skilled trades play in the local economy and the opportunities for future employment in the Four County Area.

Each community provided $12,500 and the NWMO contributed $50,000. The trailer for components of the lab was provided by the Four Country Labour Market Board.

Huron-Kinloss Mayor Mitch Twolan said that,  “We recognize there is a significant shortage of skilled tradespeople in the region. Through our involvement in the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s (NWMO) site selection process we were able to secure the resources to support the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) and give our youth hands-on experience and expose them to the skilled trades at a young age.”

South Bruce Deputy Mayor Mark Goetz added that he felt it was a fantastic way to address a critical need in the area.  “We’re really glad to be working with the NWMO to be able to support this unique Learning Lab. As a community rooted in agriculture we see the importance of providing our youth with hands-on opportunities to learn about skilled trades. Kudos to the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program for developing this adaptive learning tool; we look forward to seeing the Mobile Learning Lab in our community!”

“At the NWMO we are passionate about promoting the skilled trades and STEM education — especially to young people,” said NWMO President and CEO Laurie Swami.  “It’s one of the most rewarding aspects of our work in communities, and it’s always such a joy to join local leadership in supporting the jobs of the future. I’m thrilled to see those values come to life in this mobile learning lab.  The Township of Huron-Kinloss and the Municipality of South Bruce took the initiative to get this mobile learning lab rolling, and we are so happy to support the partnerships that made it a reality. Our site selection process is all about working with communities to enable their priorities and build their capacity. This is one of the best ways we can go about doing so.”

Dave Barrett, Coordinator/Facilitator for the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship pointed out that  there are over 20,400 students in 50 elementary schools and 11 high schools covering an area of 8,492.26 km in Bruce and Grey Counties.   “It is really exciting to be able to bring Skilled Trades experiences directly to students; particularly in Grades 7 and 8, thanks to this innovative partnership.”