Ontario has unveiled a new science curriculum for Grades 1 to 8 students, with a focus on "modernizing" lessons to include more hands-on learning, engineering design and coding.
The province is also introducing a new de-streamed science course for Grade 9 students. Updates are set to take effect in time for the 2022-23 school year.
The government says there have been many advancements in science and technology since the curriculum was last updated in 2007.
"Think about all the changes and emerging technologies we have seen, such as the development of smartphones, self driving vehicles and other forms of artificial intelligence," Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce said at a news conference Tuesday.
"As the economy changes, so must our curriculum to ensure students are learning the skills they need to help them gain access to good-paying jobs, to ensure they have a competitive advantage upon their graduation here in Ontario."
Officials say 130 expectations were removed from the curriculum to make room for the new material. But they say doing so eliminates redundancies in the previous curriculum and that no important learning is being lost.
As part of the changes, students are expected to learn how science, technology, engineering, and mathematics —also known as STEM — applies to viable careers in the skilled trades, and how emerging technologies will impact jobs in the future.
The new STEM learning will include Grade 6 students designing and testing devices such as flying machines, and Grade 8 students designing a system that replicates a conveyor belt, officials say.
As well, students starting in Grade 1 will use coding — which was recently added to the elementary math curriculum —and learn about environmental protection, a new section in which students will consider solutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition, the province says the new curriculum and Grade 9 course will:
- Explore emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence systems.
- Explore how food impacts mental and physical health, and the importance of locally grown food.
- Analyze social, economic, and environmental impacts — including climate change — on nonrenewable and renewable sources of energy.
The new curriculum also updates existing sections such as life systems, matter and energy, structures and mechanisms, and Earth and space systems.
Teachers will have a professional activity day during the next school year specifically focused on STEM learning, officials say.
The province says the new curriculum was informed by extensive research in STEM education, and was reviewed by more than 60 organizations and academic leaders.
Officials also say they worked with First Nation, Métis and Inuit partners to better include their knowledge and perspectives.
With files from The Canadian Press
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