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SHAD students get the chance to tackle the world's biggest problems

The University of Waterloo showed off some of the innovations developed by high school students in the SHAD program
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SHAD high school students took up the challenge issued by NASA and Canadian Astronaut Drew Feustal.

He issued the challenge from the International Space Station for students to come up with solutions to prepare Canadians in events of extreme disaster.

For the month of July, students in Canada’s award-winning enrichment and entrepreneurship program SHAD connected with experts, and heard first-hand accounts of natural disasters facing Canadians everyday.

From floods in New Brunswick and Calgary to hurricanes in Nova Scotia to wildfires in British Columbia, high school students had four weeks to brainstorm and prototype solutions to prepare Canadians for these extreme events.

Rob Gorbet is an associate Professor at the University of Waterloo and a Program Director for SHAD who says the program hopes to prepare students to tackle issues in the world.

"We try to grow the entire person. Not just academically. I think that is the thing that the students are going to remember the most from their experience at SHAD Waterloo. That's a really important part of the program. Sometimes I think it's unfortunate that we focus a lot on the design project because literally that's just a vehicle to teach them how to work in groups and how to collaborate and give them skills to solve big problems that are going to be useful to them as they go forward no matter what they're doing."

He also says that kids were capable of amazing things.

"These kids could learn organic chemistry on their own. All they need is the Internet."

One of the innovations on display was by a team of SHAD students at the University of Waterloo who developed a plan for a fleet of drones.

They call the drones 'RED's' for rapid evacuation drones. They would recruit Canadian teens to host and maintain RED Squadrons, and create a interconnected network of drones.

The drones themselves would guide people with LED lights while emitting simple and clear instructions.

Nellie Sun was one of the members of the RED team who says that she appreciates the opportunity that SHAD provided.

"People don't really trust young people to come up with solutions to the wicked problems of the world because they think even if adults can't solve these things, children don't stand a chance. But here, we just honestly got the space, and the trust to just give this problem a stab."


Phi Doan

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