Edmonton-based STEM program reaches youth across Canada

The University of Alberta ‘Future Creators’ program is making STEM more accessible to young students across the country.

The program started out in Edmonton and connects youth from grades 7 to 12 with engineering students at the University of Alberta as they work to create various STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and math) projects for free.

“It’s all about offering services to everyone, to all the students, especially those who might not normally have access to things like this,” said Angela Wang, Future Creators founder.

Materials for the various tech-related projects are ordered off Amazon and shipped directly to the participating student’s home. Students spend several weeks learning from University of Alberta mentors and then begin working on various projects using the knowledge they’ve learned.

Sessions take place virtually allowing the program to reach across Canada and the world.

“We thought we would just be focusing on Edmonton, but then we got all these sign-ups from all over the place,” said Wang.

And as most students are now familiar with online classrooms brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, hands-on projects are not always the most accessible.

“The pandemic has definitely been a blessing in disguise for us because during the pandemic even more students don’t get the opportunity to build a project,” said Nico Leung, vice president at Future Creators. “All of the sudden out vision, our mission is just all the more important to serve these students who don’t have this opportunity.”

The programs’ last session introduced an innovation contest where winners were awarded cash prizes for putting their own creative ideas into their individual projects.

Carter Babin won the innovation contest for an example of a computer program he was working on which could recognize the difference between cats and dogs from images.

Babin is already taking his second session of the program, focused on renewable energy.

“It’s really awesome. I would definitely recommend it – that’s why I did it again, I really like it. So I think it’s a great opportunity,” said Babin.

The program has received funding from various grants and hopes their transition into a non-profit will help provide more support as they continue to grow.

 With files from CTV Edmonton's Carlyle Fiset.