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INNOVATE U - Inspiring Canada’s next generation of technology builders



Editor’s Note: Today’s blog is guest authored by Jennifer Flanagan, President and CEO of Actua

Today, 1,400 inquisitive and curious kids (and their teachers) joined Google engineers, Actua and the University of Toronto’s Engineering Outreach team for the first-ever INNOVATE U, a day of exploration and experimentation with science and technology.

Celina Ceasar-Chavannes, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister of Canada and MP for Whitby, speaks to students at Innovate U

Celina Ceasar-Chavannes, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister of Canada and MP for Whitby, speaks to students at Innovate U


We kicked off the day with a performance by DJ Scratch, who debuted a version of “O Canada” that had the kids dancing in the aisles of Convocation Hall. The kids also heard from Ann Makosinski, a young Canadian inventor whose pioneering use of thermal technology in creating The Hollow Flashlight catapulted her to a win in the Google Science Fair in 2013.

1,400 Ontario students visit Innovation Alley at Innovate U

1,400 Ontario students visit Innovation Alley at Innovate U

INNOVATE U is a one-day event, designed to showcase the vast potential of STEM subjects. The kids and their teachers had an opportunity to participate in hands-on workshops with U of T engineering students, Actua outreach instructors and Google engineers, as well as to tour Innovate Alley, where they could try out everything from virtual reality tours of Canada’s arctic to solar-powered cars and the latest robotics.

Google Science Fair winner Ann Makosinski kicking off the day at Innovate U

Google Science Fair winner Ann Makosinski kicking off the day at Innovate U

For more than 20 years, Actua has worked to prepare young Canadians to be innovators and leaders by engaging them in exciting and accessible STEM experiences that build critical skills and confidence.  This includes our Codemakers program, supported by Google, to transform the way youth engage with computer science. The three year Codemakers project will inspire over 100,000 youth across Canada in digital skill building experiences that move them from being consumers of technology to producers of technology. Events like INNOVATE U are part of Codemakers and give us an opportunity to create extra special and unique moments of inspiration for these kids - particularly those from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in STEM, like girls and Indigenous Youth. Today we hope to ignite a spark of curiosity that will increase the likelihood that they will pursue STEM studies and careers.

Together, we can show kids that technology offers everyone the potential to create, to collaborate and to invent.

Posted by Jennifer Flanagan, President and CEO of Actua. The University of Toronto is one of 34 Actua network members across Canada annually engaging 250,000 youth in hands-on STEM.