2016 Learning Highlights
1. TELUS Spark served 12,686 students in April and 11,402 in May, our busiest months on record so far
2. Premiered summer wetlands ecology programs for schools through utilization of our pond space
3. Served as the satellite location for 16 City of Calgary Teachers Convention sessions in February
1. Energy systems-focused Prototype Project will engage Junior High and High School students in exploring and representing energy systems
2. Serving on the core team informing the new Alberta science curriculum
3. Bringing our expertise in changing how teachers work to new audiences: corporate Calgary (using what we’ve developed for SHIFT Lab in new on-demand team builders)
By: Katherine Ziff, Vice President, Content, TELUS Spark
If you’ve visited TELUS Spark you’ve seen the great learning that happens when families explore our exhibits, take in a Science Demo or Science Bite, or immerse themselves in a Dome show. You may not have seen the great educational experiences that happen in the Learning Centre, a hidden gem tucked away above the Creative Kids Museum.
The Learning Centre is where we get to dig into a topic for a longer time period – from 60 to 90 minute school programs, to half and full-day teacher professional development, to week-long Chevron Open Minds classes and Spark Spring and Summer Camps, and our ultimate in teacher PD: the week-long intensive and year-long commitment that is SHIFT Lab.
Each of our learning programs fosters experimentation, observation and collaborative learning for students, educators, and families. In 2016, over 82,000 students participated in our school programs and were encouraged to think differently by challenging themselves to learn in new ways.
School programs like dance-based Math in Motion, which takes place on the Inspiration Stage, and the behind-the-scenes building tour Spark Treks have always taken place beyond the Learning Centre. Now we take school programs outside the building. In response to a growing conversation about the environment and the importance of understanding water systems, TELUS Spark developed new programs that take place at our pond (at the north end of the site). Students learn about the plants and animals that make up our local ecosystem and how our actions affect them.
The Learning Centre doesn’t shut down in summer, in fact, in some ways, it gets even busier with Spark Summer Camps. Summer 2016 was our best-selling camp year ever with 94% of camp spots filled. Rather than play it safe with our usual seven camp themes we tried 10 topics, including riskier ones like fashion where brave campers gave haircuts to even braver Spark staff members.
“Whenever someone asks [my son] what he did at his science camp: ‘Oh—I got to start fire, play with arrows, use a saw—you know—all the things I’m NOT ALLOWED to do at home!”