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Students in the Holy Name of Mary College School’s robotics team hard at work creating their entry for the 2019 FIRST Robotics Competition.

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Holy Name of Mary College School - holynameofmarycollegeschool.c

As Holy Name of Mary College School (HNMCS) develops and facilitates a range of learning opportunities for its students, statistics show its senior school graduates are increasingly choosing STEM-related careers. In the past three years, the numbers of students who have gone on to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) have increased from 41 per cent in 2016 to 65 per cent in 2017 and 78 per cent in 2018.

At the independent school for girls in Mississauga, Ontario, the school has a strong focus on STEAM and an emphasis on 21st century competencies, says head of school Marilena Tesoro.

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One of the components of the progressive academic program is Innovation Time. Every Thursday the traditional curriculum is collapsed and students have more than two hours to focus on completing a passion project driven by their own interests, working collaboratively with one another, teachers and experts on projects ranging from creating a startup or cosmetic products to social engagement and activism passion projects.

The robotics team, which includes approximately 32 per cent of the senior school’s students, is building on past experiences and entering an HNMCS robot in the 2019 FIRST Robotics Competition, Destination: Deep Space.

Dr. Karen Kozma, who teaches sciences and mentors the robotics team, says the girls have built a robot that can prepare a cargo ship for liftoff by securing hatch panels and lading cargo pods. And if that sounds challenging, the team knows that at some stage of the two-and-a-half-minute task a sandstorm will reduce visibility and the robot will have to operate autonomously.

Students in the Holy Name of Mary College School’s robotics team hard at work creating their entry for the 2019 FIRST Robotics Competition.

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Building the robot and preparing for the competition has necessitated contributions from girls with a range of skills and talents including technical programming, computer-aided design and the arts, says Dr. Kozma.

“In addition to engineering, team branding, preparing documentation to get corporate sponsors and creating animation videos are all part of the project,” she says.

In a unique twist, the team has adapted the robot to take part in Spring Café – HNMCS’s annual celebration of the arts.

“Cymbals have been attached to the robot’s arms so that it can clap,” says Dr. Kozma. “For girls who can keep a beat and make music, the challenge was to code that rhythm: girls who are interested in the arts learned the technical aspects of coding because they wanted to, and by doing that, enhanced their own math skills.”

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“By participating in the Spring Café, the robotics team will demonstrate that robotics can be a focal point for the integration of many academic disciplines, which aligns with the competencies students will need for their future,” says Ms. Tesoro.


Produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved in its creation.

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