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Tech comes to Toronto youth

Tech comes to Toronto youth 

With newly developed lesson plans for Canadian educators, Forest hopes to bring Internet of Things web technologies into the classroom.

“We examined the Ontario curriculum to see where there might be a good fit; where kids were old enough to do something impressive and where there was a need,” Forest explained.

Ultimately, Forest chose the energy unit for Grade 6 pupils. Using principles taught in science, math and art classes, Forest created “Robotic Power System”, a teaching guide that introduced the fundamentals of open data and the Internet of Things.

The first schools to implement the curriculum were Alpha Alternative School and Downtown Vocal Music Academy, located in the heart of downtown Toronto. With Forest’s guidance, students created models of Ontario’s four main energy sources and energy consumers. Using real-time open data, the project’s LED lights changed colours to show which power source was being used and by whom.

“Data being available from the power producers made this come alive. It enabled us to get the intelligence of the Internet into a physical project,” said Forest. “Making it project-based means there is a goal. It turns teaching around. It’s telling kids: ‘here’s an awesome goal that you need to accomplish and here are the tools to get there.'”

It was a learning experience not simply for the students, but for teachers as well.

“There are a number of barriers to teaching tech,” Forest said. “It takes time to develop a curriculum, and most teachers are already very busy. Others may not have the personal comfort level with the tools, so they may be scared off or think they can’t adequately convey the information. We want to eliminate those barriers.”

Forest’s guide, in addition to a second available on the STREAMLabs website, was funded by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA).

“Teaching kids about tech and getting them engaged is vital if we are going to produce the savvy, critical thinkers with the digital skills Canada needs to be globally competitive,” said David Fowler, CIRA’s director of marketing and communications. “CIRA is helping to build a better online Canada, and that includes making the Internet of Things a tool for learning, innovation and human development.”

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