Scouts explore technology while enjoying outdoor adventures

Thousands of scouts converge on Camp Woods for Canadian jamboree

  • Jul. 10, 2013 8:37 p.m.

Long known for their work with supporting young people in their physical, mental and spiritual development, the Scout movement of the world has begun to address the changing planet they live on as well.

On Monday as part of the 2013 Canadian Jamboree at Camp Woods just outside of Sylvan Lake, 5,000 scouts from across Canada as well as the United States and even as far as Hong Kong gathered together in unity to celebrate.

The Jamboree, which usually happens every four years or so, was unique this year in that Scouts Canada will be officially launching their newest program STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) that aims to encourage scouts to embrace the technological world they are living in.

“We are hoping to provide a more technological aspect to scouting because most people think of it as just camping all the time,” said Joshua Estrella, 17, spokesperson for STEM and a long time scout.

“But we are trying to look at things differently because we are living in a different world than we once were.”

Thanks to a million dollar donation through a partnership with Imperial Oil Foundation and ExxonMobil Canada, which is to be paid out over five years, scouts across Canada are embracing their inner creativity through a cycle of new programs that are geared towards STEM subjects.

“ExxonMobil and Imperial oil have been funding STEM-related programs for a number of years within Canada alone,” said Andrew Price, camp chief, Scouts Canada chief commissioner and Imperial Oil employee.

“So we started to talk about how we could expand the partnership between Imperial Oil and the scouts and we sat down with executives, a number of who are heavily involved with scouts, and they have been quite generous with us.”

The program need was addressed after a study by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives was done that showed Canadian youth appeared to be less interested in STEM subjects than their American and Chinese counterparts.

STEM hopes to provide scouts with an initiative that could foster their scientific and mathematic interests that were previously unaddressed in earlier programming.

Focused on encouraging the importance of how fun science can be, youth ages 5-26 will have the opportunity to learn about hands-on programming involving chemistry, environmental science, math, robotics and other activities that demonstrate the physics of stress, force and acceleration.

Activities could include constructing catapults and towers from poles and lashings to developing renewable energy projects, to understanding the world of germs, and learning how to camp on Mars.

“It gives youth a chance to do something different,” said Price.

“We are outdoors and doing a lot of outdoor activities but now we are giving them something different in the form of robotics and STEM this year at the jamboree that maybe kids from across Canada wouldn’t be able to try in their schools or their troops at home.”

Attendees of the Canadian Jamboree at Camp Woods had the opportunity to view the launch of STEM in Canada firsthand, with a demonstration by fellow scouts on how to program robotic rovers.

“We live in a world of rapidly changing technology and this is a great opportunity for Scouts Canada to bring technology into what we are doing,” said Barry Mitchell, national STEM coordinator.

“We have pulled together a system of robots and computers and the computers talk to the robots. The robots would hypothetically be sent to a remote planet to search for life much like the Curiosity is sent to Mars and our robots are being programmed to go to another planet in another solar system and search for life.”

The STEM project was received well by scouts and hundreds lined up to have their shot at trying out the rovers for the first time, where many expressed how excited they were to finally have their love of science and math cultivated along with their love of scouting.

jswan@reddeerexpress.com

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