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  • Antoine Garwah

Intergenerational Connections and STEM

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is a hot topic on the radar of government agencies, educational institutions, and private industry.

Why? They understand that STEM skills equip communities for the future.

Robots are replacing humans in tedious, repetitive tasks that need to be completed with precision and efficiency; these cannot be equaled by humans. Automation will help people develop thinking, decision making and logical thinking skills. Recently Artificial Intelligence is making waves that will, in a short period, rival humans in making decisions.

Canada is a current world leader in many fields of science including space, medicine, environmental sciences and manufacturing. Are Canadians ready for a digital world, a world dominated by STEM? How do we ensure that future generations are ready?

Indeed Gen X and Millenials are innovative and the future is in their hands but past generations possess a wealth of experience and expertise that could be tapped into as we explore ideas and strategies.

That’s why Intergenerational STEM programs are being developed; many different communities are fostering connections between the old generation and the new. Working together they can contribute to the skills needed to continue propelling Canada forward.

At Science Timmins, we decided to explore how intergenerational connections can enhance and support workforce development and STEM skills education. Thanks to multiple funders, Science Village undertook an examination of the roles assumed when different generations worked together.

The study involved 26 bilingual children, aged 7-8, and senior citizens with STEM expertise in technology, culinary arts and communication skills. The group spent 20 hours working together on hands-on STEM challenges as an intergenerational team of two, solving problems and executing strategies. The results were intriguing: through the connection between generations, the youth were able to hear about lived-experience though a vehicle of practical concepts, and also communicate their innovative ideas efficiently and accurately. The senior citizens appreciated and benefited from the opportunity to share their knowledge and expertise. The project is continuing, and more observations are still to be gathered and analyzed.

What do you think? Is there a role for all generations to contribute to the development of a STEM culture in Canada? How can new and future generations realize their potential and innovate freely while benefitting from past generations? STEM is here to stay for all of us – doesn’t it make sense if all of us are a part of the way forward?

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