The COVID-19 pandemic continues to change the fabric of life all over the world.
In these uncertain times, we need to rally together to support Canadians and respond to the needs of the communities we operate in.
In the face of school closures during the pandemic, we need to ensure the academic progress of our students. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), including environmental and sustainability issues, are important fundamentals in building healthier communities. Opportunities are everywhere and our community partners have stepped up to the challenge of launching innovative and creative online modules of learning.
3Mgives partners take science and sustainability learning online.
Within days of provincial governments directing colleges and universities to move courses online, the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) launched a national teaching resource called Keep Teaching.
The free online platform helps postsecondary teachers and administrators rapidly move courses online, rethink final exams, and make coursework accessible for learners with impaired vision, learning disabilities, or limited fine motor skills.
Another 3Mgives partner, Learning for a Sustainable Future, has launched "Learning Inside Out" – a series of Kindergarten to Grade 12 weekly learning activities built on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Aligned to curriculum and supporting Ministry of Education “Learning from Home” initiatives, these weekly sustainability activities get students outside and connected to nature.
“The key is to focus on learning outcomes students can achieve in alternative ways outside the lab and help lower their anxiety by making them feel supported. Across disciplines, many instructors are grappling with similar teaching challenges. At times like this, connecting with colleagues about teaching and learning is more important than ever.” - Dr. Brett McCollum, professor of Chemistry at Mount Royal University and a 2019 3M National Teaching Fellow.
Showcasing robots and technical skills, online.
FIRST Robotics Canada has responded to the pandemic by launching LEGO Build it Challenges, a community board of FIRST teams’ COVID-19 actions, and FIRST Canada LIVE! The daily live stream is scheduled on Twitch where students showcase their robots. Program leads also share design tips and guidance for students on how they can build a better robot.
Skills Ontario has moved face-to-face programs such as the Young Women’s Conferences online to continue engaging youth in skilled trades and technology. Additionally, a series of Twitter video challenges have also been launched to engage students. For example, one challenge was to build a rollercoaster system that could keep a 5cm ball in motion for five seconds without touching the floor.
In 3M Canada’s hometown of London, Ontario, the London Children’s Museum is offering free play-based learning activities for parents and children. Posted to Facebook and Instagram, the activities include Rube Goldberg machine challenges, fossil shows, and at-home science experiments comparing baking soda to baking powder and DIY acid-base indicators.
"My son Evan misses the Children's Museum so much,” said Erica, a London Children's Museum member. “He asks me every day if he can visit. The videos have been a lifesaver. We watch them together and he feels connected to his Children's Museum friends, and they also give us great ideas for incorporating fun and engaging science and play activities into our time at home."
Helping our local communities during this time of need.
Crises like COVID-19 show the need to support STEM education and sustainability to ensure a brighter future for our community is within reach. We have contributed $4 million in cash donations globally to build capacity for distance learning during the pandemic across the globe. This funding will support STEM partners and other educational organisations as they serve students in new ways (e.g. online learning) and support continuity of learning for students.
I believe that we need to work together to pull through this pandemic. I encourage all of you to support your local non-profit organisations and community partners to help those in need.
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