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k2i academy engages girls in STEM with engineering design challenge

Lassonde’s k2i academy recently took part in the ‘Young Women on the Move: Possibilities Conference’ at Runnymede Elementary School, hosted by the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). The conference, held on March 1, aimed to encourage girls to explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) pathways.

The k2i team led an engineering design challenge, focusing on UN Sustainable Development Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities. The challenge was to design and build prototypes of earthquake-resilient structures, underlining the importance of creating inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable urban environments. This practical, hands-on experience introduced the girls to the engineering design process, emphasizing problem-solving and creativity in addressing real-world issues.

“Through our Possibilities Conference, we wanted to empower young women to see the endless possibilities available to them by building their confidence, breaking down barriers and stereotypes and encouraging them to explore non-traditional courses of study,” says Lauren Rovas, Vice-Principal and Possibilities Conference Lead Organizer, TDSB.  “We were thrilled to welcome k2i academy to engage our young women in a design challenge. Through their exploration of the engineering process, students were able to see the interwoven nature of engineering with design, arts, mathematics and so much more. It was inspiring to see the way k2i academy staff worked with students to help them create a design that was not only functional but also environmentally conscious. The excitement and engagement of participants was reflected in their final designs.”

Mentors Gbemi Akerele, Mabin Mathew and Tony Tran, along with k2i academy staff, guided the students as they learned about earthquakes, the principles of stable structures and the iterative process of designing, building and testing their prototypes using shaker testing tables.

“During the engineering challenge, it was fun to hang out with different people and build a structure,” says Chloe, a student who took part in the event. “We had to think about what materials we needed and the way to arrange them together. Not everything worked at first, but we worked hard to create a design that could withstand the ‘earthquake.’ I loved doing the engineering project and I want to try it again!”

Students taking part in the engineering design challenge
Students taking part in the engineering design challenge

Students taking part in the engineering design challenge

The event, which engaged 200 girls from eight different elementary schools, serves as a strong example of the collaboration between k2i academy and TDSB to engage young minds in STEM. This partnership, dating back to June 2020, has fostered a variety of programs aimed at breaking down barriers in STEM education.

“As a woman who studied physics, it is important for me to encourage and inspire the next generation of girls to consider STEM career pathways,” says Lisa Cole, Director of Programming, k2i academy. “k2i is thrilled to partner with TDSB to design and deliver programs that encourage youth to discover their curiosities, develop skills in coding and engineering design, and reach students and families who may not have considered STEM pathways.”