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Mobile Learning Lab for STEM and Skilled Trades
Bluewater District School Board Chair Jan Johnstone and Director of Education joined local dignitaries, representatives from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board, media, and other community stakeholders for an exciting announcement at the Ripley-Huron Community Centre on Tuesday, April 9, 2019.

Attendees learned about a first-of-its-kind mobile learning lab, which will be rolling into Ontario this summer and heading to Bruce and Grey Counties.  This unique learning experience will help students explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) thanks to strong leadership in South Bruce and Huron-Kinloss, and the communities’ work with the Nuclear Waste Management Organization.

With the help of trained staff, this fun, informative and hands-on mobile learning lab will help provide more opportunities to more students to explore and consider a future career in the skilled trades and STEM fields.  This new lab will increase opportunities for students from Grade 7 onwards to engage with these dynamic topics.

The lab is expected to officially start rolling in the summer of 2019 across Bluewater District School Board and Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board.  It is expected to reach over 20,000 students in 50 elementary schools and 11 secondary schools, and will initially consist of simulation software and technology, including:
Group photo image (L-R): BWDSB Director Murray & Chair Johnstone, OYAP Coordinator/Facilitator Dave Barrett, South Bruce Deputy Mayor Mark Goetz, NWMO President/CEO Laurie Swami, Huron-Kinloss Mayor Mitch Twolan, BGCDSB Superintendent Norm Bethune
  • a welding simulator
  • a crane simulator
  • an excavator simulator
  • a loader/back hoe and dozer simulator
  • STEM simulation software
  • 3D printing and robotics
The learning opportunity was developed thanks to partnerships between both school boards, the Four County Labour Market Board, Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), and the collaborative efforts of the Township of Huron-Kinloss, Municipality of South Bruce, and the NWMO.

Leaders in Huron-Kinloss and South Bruce recognize the important role the skilled trades play in the local economy and the opportunities for future employment in the Four County Area.

Both communities provided $12,500 and the NWMO contributed $50,000.  The trailer for components of the lab was provided by the Four County Labour Market Board.

During the announcement, OYAP Coordinator/Facilitator Dave Barrett shared some compelling details regarding the high interest in skilled trades by local students, and the hard work that is being done in our schools to meet the demand and prepare students for trades related careers.

There are currently 24 Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) programs in Bluewater District School Board secondary schools that span 10 industry sectors, ranging from Agriculture to Transportation.  Bluewater District School Board exceeds provincial averages in a number of areas related to SHSM programs. Proportionately, there are two percent more students participating than the provincial average.  There are 13 percent more students participating in Technology courses, while there is a 10 percent higher participation rate in co-operative education experiences.  OYAP, which supports students interested in pursuing an apprenticeship, has a student registration percentage rate three times higher than the provincial average.  Bluewater District School Board also has twice the percentage of females registered in OYAP than the provincial average.


Huron-Kinloss Mayor Mitch Twolan
“We recognize there is a significant shortage of skilled tradespeople in the region.  Though our involvement in the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s (NWMO) site selection process we were able to secure the resources to support the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) and give our youth hands on experience and expose them to the skilled trades at a young age.”

South Bruce Deputy Mayor Mark Goetz
“This is a fantastic way to address a critical need in our area. We’re really glad to be working with the NWMO to be able to support this unique Learning Lab. As a community rooted in agriculture we see the importance of providing our youth with hands-on opportunities to learn about skilled trades. Kudos to the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program for developing this adaptive learning tool; we look forward to seeing the Mobile Learning Lab in our community!”

NWMO President and CEO Laurie Swami
“At the NWMO we are passionate about promoting the skilled trades and STEM education — especially to young people.  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. I’m thrilled to see those values come to life in this mobile learning lab.  The Township of Huron-Kinloss and the Municipality of South Bruce took the initiative to get this mobile learning lab rolling, and we are so happy to support the partnerships that made it a reality. Our site selection process is all about working with communities to enable their priorities and build their capacity. This is one of the best ways we can go about doing so.”

Dave Barrett, Coordinator/Facilitator for the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program
“With over 20,400 students in 50 elementary schools and 11 high schools covering an area of 8,492.26 km in Bruce and Grey Counties, it is really exciting to be able to bring Skilled Trades experiences directly to students; particularly in Grades 7 and 8, thanks to this innovative partnership.”

Source: media release, Nuclear Waste Management Organization

Image of OYAP Coordinator/Facilitator Dave Barrett speaking at podium Image of NWMO President and CEO Laurie Swami speaking at podium