OAKVILLE, ON, Oct. 22, 2014 /CNW/ - St. Mildred's-Lightbourn School (SMLS), a premier independent day school in Oakville for girls Preschool to Grade 12, proudly announces a grant from A.W.B. Charitable Foundation, supporting the next phase of the school's FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics program in the amount of $30,000 over two years. The program's total budget is $44,000 annually. According to A.W.B. President Aubrey Baillie, "A.W.B. is supporting the SMLS FIRST Robotics Program because it is an excellent platform for youth skills development in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), and can provide our young people a doorway to future education and career opportunities."
Nathan Chow, SMLS Teacher and Lead Mentor, says "A.W.B.'s generous support will allow young women more accessibility to tools, mentors, equipment, experiences, and opportunities to explore the STEM fields without limits. Beyond the next two years, A.W.B.'s impact will be seen in the many future engineers graduating from our team, with keen ability to solve the problems of today and the unknown ones of tomorrow."
SMLS offers a dynamic learning environment for girls, focusing on their unique learning needs. All programs are designed to inspire and develop each girl as she continues on her path of learning. One of the most remarkable programs offered is FIRST Robotics, which challenges girls in Grades 1 through 12 to compete against other schools in a series of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) challenges.
At the primary level, students use LEGO® bricks to build a model that features a real-world scientific concept to be explored, while at the secondary level, students build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors.
Perhaps what is most extraordinary about the program is its long-term impact on SMLS students and their future career choices. According to a 2013 Statistics Canada study, women represent the majority of university graduates, but are still underrepresented in STEM fields – with 200,000 males graduating annually in a STEM field compared to about 130,000 women. Since the program's inception in 2002, the SMLS Robotics Team (SWAT771) has grown from two girls to more than fifty, making it the largest school program within SMLS – and one that has forged a pathway for girls in the Oakville community and beyond. The SMLS Robotics Team holds the title of being the first Canadian all-girls' team and remains the only all-girls' team in the world that has won the prestigious Regional Chairman's Award in the FIRST Competition.
At SMLS, students advancing to university programs are defying the odds, with 28% of graduates since 2002 pursuing STEM fields, compared to the national average of 19%. These choices have consequences, as fields of study such as engineering and computer science lead, on average, to better outcomes in the labour market in terms of employment, job match and earnings.
SMLS' FIRST Robotics Program has created a platform for the knowledge development and celebration of achievements of women in science and technology. Aligning with the A.W.B. Charitable Foundation's interest in supporting educational programs, the SMLS Robotics program is driven by the conviction that girls are leaders and innovators who have a vital role to play as students – and eventually, as productive members of Canada's workforce.
A.W.B. Charitable Foundation's generous contribution will support the program in four critical ways:
- SMLS will increase its capacity to register more girls in the Robotics Program through the waiving of individual registration fees.
- SMLS will have the financial resources to purchase the necessary tools and equipment to build robots, allowing the team to compete more effectively.
- SMLS will host robotics outreach programs to engage communities in science and technology at a local, national and international level. Outreach programs include: coordinating a weekend Robotics Symposium for local youth and other FIRST teams through the facilitation of workshops and a guest-speaker program and delivering robotics-focused presentations in classrooms around the world.
- Combined, these activities will ensure girls and other youth have increased access to regional, national, and international robotics competitions and will heighten opportunities for young-women in STEM fields.
According to SMLS student Amy Li, "A.W.B.'s generous support is greatly appreciated and crucial to the development of SWAT771. Not only will their support impact the lives of the young women passionate about STEM on our team, it will also be used towards inspiring society's driving forces by familiarizing them with the possibilities within the vast realm of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. SWAT771 is truly grateful for A.W.B.'s financial support, and will aim to become the true manifestation of A.W.B.'s funding interests." Rishika Sharma, also a SWATT771 team member, added: "We are so grateful to be receiving this grant from A.W.B. I know that with their generous support, our team will be able to further grow and continue developing girls who dare to dream, are unafraid to innovate, and continually strive to inspire others." And student Emily Ambrosie said "There's no doubt that every SWAT girl is truly appreciative of this support. Due to A.W.B.'s generosity, after their SWAT journey girls will not only know how to build a robot, but will also be global citizens and well-rounded women."
Image with caption: "St. Mildred's-Lightbourn School (CNW Group/St. Mildred's-Lightbourn School)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20141022_C2496_PHOTO_EN_6982.jpg
SOURCE: St. Mildred's-Lightbourn School
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