A Unique Energy: Sparking a love of science and engineering
WHAT: The WISE Kid–Netic Energy program launched at the University of Manitoba in 1990 to increase female participation in science and engineering. The program has since grown considerably and now aims to boost involvement among all Manitoba youth—including the following under-represented groups: females, Indigenous youth, visible minorities and those with socio-economic challenges—in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
HOW IT WORKS: They deliver hands-on, Manitoba science curriculum-based, “fun and messy” workshops in schools; run extracurricular clubs; and host memorable summer camps for kids from kindergarten to Grade 12 throughout the province. Each year they reach 22,000 youth, including those who live in northern and farming communities, and on First Nations reserves.
THEIR GOAL: To ignite an interest in—and lifelong passion for—science and engineering in Manitoba’s young people.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: “You can’t be what you don’t see,” says Nusraat Masood, WISE Kid-Netic Energy program administrator. “We have bright, promising youth in our province but unless we expose them early and often to science and engineering career paths Manitoba will not prosper … There’s this energy you get when kids get excited together about science and engineering. It’s hard to explain. You feel as though anything is possible and any problem can have a solution. You visualize them growing up, being happy and feeling fulfilled and helping others live well. Having women and minorities in technical fields isn’t just ‘nice’. As the world’s population increases and resources are more strained we will need to find innovative solutions to our society’s challenges. You can’t reach those solutions from a stagnant, dull, homogenous workforce. You need vibrancy and diversity to draw new voices and new perspectives.”
FUNDERS: The WISE Kid-netic Energy Program is a member organization of Actua and is funded by the University of Manitoba, the Faculties of Engineering and Science, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Manitoba Green Team, the Engineering Access Program, NSERC Chair of Women in Science and Engineering Chair for Prairie Region (Prof. Annemieke Farenhorst), Motorola solutions Foundation, Engineers Canada, Winnipeg Foundation, Vale, Monsanto, the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of the Province of Manitoba, Calm Air, and Robert Alan Kennedy and other private donor support of the ‘Adopt-a-Class’ initiative.