Mobile science and tech lab to visit region's schools

A new mobile lab offering learning opportunities in skilled trades, science and more is slated to visit students in Bruce and Grey this summer.

The lab, which will include wielding, crane and excavator simulators as well as 3D printing and robotic components, aims to offer an experience for students in grade seven and higher to consider careers in skilled trades and science and engineering fields.

Four County Labour Market Board will be contributing the trailer for the lab and funding for the mobile-learning lab was provided by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), as well as the municipalities of South Bruce and Huron-Kinloss. Both towns are study areas for the NWMO and could potentially host the organization’s underground used nuclear fuel storage site.

“We recognize there is a significant shortage of skilled tradespeople in the region,” said Huron-Kinloss Mayor Mitch Twolan in a release about the lab. He added that the town’s involvement in the NWMO’s site selection process is helping “give our youth hands on experience and expose them to the skilled trades at a young age.”

Huron-Kinloss and South Bruce each provided $12,500 for the lab, which is expected to reach over 20,000 students in elementary and secondary schools in the region. The NWMO contributed $50,000 towards the mobile-learning unit.

Laurie Swami, NWMO president and CEO, applauded the efforts of Huron-Kinloss and South Bruce to get the lab rolling and said the site selection process “is all about with communities to enable their priorities and build their capacity.”

“At the NWMO we are passionate about promoting the skilled trades and (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education — especially to young people,” Swami said in a release. “It’s one of the most rewarding aspects of our work in communities, and it’s always such a joy to join local leadership in supporting the jobs of the future.”

The lab was announced in Ripley on April 9, and was developed in partnership with the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), which supports students in pursuing apprenticeships, and the Bluewater District School Board (BWDSB) and Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board.

According to a release from the BWDSB, students in the area have shown a particular interest in trades. The board’s enrolment rate in technology courses is 13 per cent higher than the provincial rate and their are 10 per cent more students participating in co-ops compared to other boards in Ontario.

BWDSB’s rate of registration in the OYAP is also three times higher than the average provincially, with twice the percentage of female-students registered above the average in Ontario.

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