Partnership brings the future to Vancouver schools

The FuturePLAY program is a partnership between VSB, the city and BroadbandTV

Thanks to a partnership between Vancouver School Board, the City of Vancouver and a local tech company students in Vancouver will soon have access to a new program aimed at digital learning and STEAM.

STEAM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and design, and mathematics, is an educational approach that has taken root over the last several years that incorporates those areas into student learning, bringing more of the knowledge and skills students may need for future careers into the classroom.

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“Digital fluency will be essential to all new jobs,” district superintendent Suzanne Hoffman said. “An understanding of technology will be essential for youth to integrate with critical thinking, social perceptiveness and complex problem solving to remain competitive and resilient in a multi-job career pathway.

“It is our job as educators to equip learners with the right tools and to foster their curiosity so they can be successful in a fast-changing industry landscape.”

The new program, FuturePLAY, is a partnership between Vancouver School Board, the City of Vancouver and local tech company BroadbandTV. It is aimed at creating engaging and well-equipped learning spaces for students as well as providing professional development for teachers. The program, which is designed for students in grades 4 to 7 can be scaled to each school’s needs and will be rolled out over the next few years starting with schools in most need.

FuturePLAY brings technology, such as Chromebooks and iPads, pre-loaded with educational software for coding, design, CAD and other programs. It also creates resource spaces for students to collaborate and learn in different ways. For teachers, the program offers professional development programs in collaboration with Science World.

“Vancouver is now a global powerhouse for tech startups and leading innovative enterprises and we need to ensure all kids have the educational support to pursue career opportunities in our local economy,” Mayor Gregor Robertson said in one of his last events before his decade-long mayoral run ends next week with the inauguration of mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart and the new council. “I’m so thankful to see this creative partnership of our Vancouver schools with leaders of Vancouver’s innovation community — it will benefit local kids and our city well into the future.”

Education minister Rob Fleming was also on hand for Friday’s announcement at Lord Strathcona elementary school, saying the program fits well with the province’s new curriculum.

“We are making sure B.C.’s students receive an education that provides them with the tools they need to thrive and contribute to a prosperous 21st century economy,” he said.

Shahrzad Rafati, BroadbandTV founder and CEO, said she grew up in Tehran “not having access to the right technology and tools, but always had great interest in innovation.” She went on to start a global tech business based in Vancouver.

“I’m particularly excited about how the program can increase the number of girls and Indigenous youth who remain engaged in science and technology, and ultimately choose to pursue STEAM careers,” she said.

@JessicaEKerr

jkerr@vancourier.com

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