Liberal government invests $50 million into teaching youth digital literacy and coding skills

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Let's Talk Science was one of the organizations to receive a grant from the CanCode program to fund programs and initiatives that will help youth learn about digital literacy and coding

Last month, Let's Talk Science received a $2 million grant from CanCode, in order to assist in educating youth from kindergarten to grade 12 on digital literacy skills and coding. The Let's Talk Science national charity organization is committed to supporting youth development in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) areas of study.

This $2 million grant is part of a larger government project, in which, the Liberal government is investing $50 million over the next two years into initiatives and programs across the country that will assist youth in digital skills and learning to code. According to the CanCode website, the program's aim is to equip youth, including traditionally underrepresented groups, with the tools they will need for the jobs of tomorrow.

“I don't know of any job that isn't being transformed by technology,” Bonnie Schmidt, President of Let's Talk Science, said. “The extent to which we can help more young people and teachers become more comfortable using technology and understanding the different layers towards becoming a programmer or coder is becoming critically important [for a large variety of future jobs].”

Schmidt explained that over 70 per cent of future jobs will require some background in a science, technology, engineering or math field. “[That statistic] came from a Spotlight on Science report that we did just a couple of years ago [which explained that] traditional jobs that one might think of as needing science, technology, engineering and math are growing exponentially. Just thinking about the example of manufacturing, the world of manufacturing has transformed enormously over the past decade or so and requires deep technical backgrounds.”

Part of the funding will go towards a science experiment in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency. The premise of the project is to provide an opportunity to start a discussion regarding the importance of our impact on the environment. Youth participants will have the opportunity to conduct research on the subject of space travel and environmental condition that affect it through monitoring astronaut David Saint-Jacques' mission to the International Space Station. In addition, students will be monitoring their classroom environments for the project.

“What we are going to be able to do is create a national science experiment in which students from across the country will also be monitoring conditions within their school, classroom or another environment that they want to be monitoring. [The participants] will be feeding data into a national database and comparing the results of classrooms across the country and comparing results to what is happening at the space station,” Schmidt said. Once the data is collected, Schmidt explained that, “Students will then be encouraged to change, to do something to improve their environment and then re-record the data and bring it back.”

Let's Talk Science also has a partnership with Fanshawe College. The partnership allows student volunteers to participate in outreach programs to teach young students in the southwestern Ontario community about science, technology, engineering and math.