Sherwood Park, AB. — Students at Westboro Elementary are getting a technological enhancement to their classrooms, thanks to a $3,200 federal grant through Callysto Canada. The school’s using the extra funds to purchase electronics and robotics equipment to enhance math and science programming for students in grades 4 to 6.
Callysto is an online curriculum-based learning platform, developed by the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences and Cybera, that helps students strengthen their digital skills. The grant’s aim: To help teachers incorporate data science, coding and computational thinking into their lesson plans. Increasingly, these skills are becoming relevant for those who see a future for themselves in the tech industry, and various other sectors.
So, when David Hay, Rhonda Lee and Amberly Witzke, teachers at Westboro Elementary, found out Callysto was offering a chance for them to bring these skills into their classrooms, they knew right away they had to apply. “The grant allows us to better prepare students for their technology-intense future,” says Hay. “It’s important students develop data science and computational thinking skills, and that it’s introduced early in their education.”
Westboro Elementary is one of only six schools across the country to receive the Callysto grant—funded through the federal government’s CanCode program. In the school’s application, Hay, Lee and Witzke proposed using the money to buy micro:bit electronics and other robotics equipment for their classrooms, which all fit into the existing curriculum. Now purchased, students will use the equipment and Callysto’s online platform to create various projects using coding, data collection and graphic visualizations. For example, Grade 4 students will use the technology to build devices and vehicles that move. Grade 5 students will create mechanisms using electricity and weather-measurement devices. Meanwhile, Grade 6 students will design, build and test flying objects.
“We are looking forward to seeing what teachers and students can create and learn through this project,” says Mike Lastiwka, the Principal of Westboro Elementary. “The new equipment will be invaluable to students and teachers as they experiment and discover what they’re capable of creating, given the proper tools.”
Already, teachers are implementing the new technology in their classrooms. And, in the years to come, Westboro Elementary expects students’ expertise to grow, as they have more time to experiment, learn and build on the progress of the previous years’ lessons. The teachers will also release their teaching resources under a Creative Commons licence, meaning they can be freely shared and adapted by anyone in the future.
Westboro Elementary serves approximately 340 students in kindergarten to Grade 6 and is one of 43 schools within Elk Island Public Schools. More information about the school is available at westboroelementary.ca.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Laura McNabb, Director, Communication Services, EIPS 780-417-8204 cell 780-405-4902