Thompson Rivers University today announced it is one of only two Canadian organizations to be awarded a grant to participate in the HP Catalyst Initiative , a global social innovation program designed to develop more effective approaches to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. The network of educational institutions belonging to the program will use an interdisciplinary approach and emphasize creativity, collaboration and cross-cultural expertise to transform STEM teaching and learning, and to inspire students to use their technical and creative ingenuity to help address immediate social challenges.
TRU will use the HP Catalyst Initiative grant of $150,000 to expand the work begun with the BC-Integrated Laboratory Network (BC-ILN), which blends Information Technology and innovation allowing greater accessibility to scientific instrumentation and learning resources, by rural students.
“This project and the support from HP will help us to achieve our goal of providing students with practical skills that make the fullest use of the most sophisticated technology. We are extremely proud of the fact that our students have such skills and it’s what gives them a real advantage in the marketplace. We are honored that we have been selected to be part of this exciting program,” said Dr. Tom Dickinson, TRU Dean of Science.
“We are extremely proud of the fact that our students have such skills and it’s what gives them a real advantage in the marketplace.” – Dr. Tom Dickinson, TRU Dean of Science
“This funding from HP provides a modern and seamless experience at rural post-secondary institutions allowing students to access and run some of TRU’s analytical instrumentation,” said Dr. Sharon Brewer, Associate Professor and the project’s co-lead. “With the new infrastructure students will prepare samples at their high-school or college send them to TRU, and then log in, start, control and view the analysis from wherever they are.”
“One of the key things we have learned is that it is not only the instrument control that is important to the student learning, but creating a ‘real’ authentic laboratory experience,” said Dr. Bruno Cinel, Assistant Professor and project co-lead. Since 2006 Brewer and Cinel have been working on both the logistics and the evaluation of whether or not students could learn as effectively in this way.
HP has invested more than US$10 million since 2010 and engaged with more than 55 educational institutions in 15 countries to further innovation in STEM education. As a new member of this distinguished international network, TRU will join the HP Catalyst “Multi-Versity” Consortium and receive a grant of HP technology, financial contributions and professional support valued at more than $150,000.
Dr. Sharon Brewer
Dr. Sharon Brewer, Associate Professor,
TRU Department of Chemistry
Dr. Bruno Cinel Assistant Professor
TRU Department of Chemistry
Dr. Tom Dickinson
Dean of Science, TRU
The HP Catalyst Initiative created five global consortia in 2010, each focusing on a specific theme focused on transforming STEM education. These “sandboxes” of innovation are developing new approaches to teacher preparation, online education, technology to measure learning outcomes, and engagement with students in global, collaborative learning experiences. In 2011, an additional 14 organizations have been funded as members in one of the five existing HP Catalyst consortia. The program also is adding a sixth theme, “STEM-preneur,” to focus specifically on novel ways to combine STEM education with the skills and passion of entrepreneurship. In total, 21 organizations from 12 countries join the network of leading institutions that are transforming STEM+ teaching and learning.