Shad Valley: The enrichment program that has high school students from all across Canada talking
Talk to just about any high school student across Canada and chances are they’ve heard about Shad Valley – a four-week summer enrichment program that caters to high school students who have a keen interest in science, technology, engineering and math, also known as the STEM subjects. The Shad program started at Memorial University in 2003 and was originally run by the P.J. Gardiner Institute but in 2007, Dr. Leonard Lye and the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science took over the program and it just keeps getting bigger and better.
“Today, we are considered one of the best programs in Canada because of the strong support and participation of a wide variety of people ranging from Memorial’s senior administration, faculty members from various faculties, the City of St. John’s, the Town of Fogo, etc.,” said Dr. Lye.
To apply, students must be currently completing grades 10, 11 or 12, Quebec secondaire IV, V or CEGEP I, or the international equivalent. They must have a 90 per cent average in the STEM subjects and should be active within their communities, creative, musical and entrepreneurial. Successful students spend four weeks in July at one of Shad’s host university campuses and live in residence. According to Dr. Lye, more than 1,000 students applied for the 2013 program and 600 students were accepted.
“We had 56 students here this year. The number of students from year to year ranges from 48 to 56. We have had kids from all across Canada attend our program, except kids from our province. Kids from Newfoundland and Labrador go to other campuses,” explained Dr. Lye.
Natalia Aroca-Ouellette of Vancouver attended Memorial’s Shad program this summer.
“I’ve had a lot of friends at school who have done the program and they said it was life-changing and absolutely amazing so I had to apply. The field trips have been a lot of fun. We went to Fogo Island and Cape Spear. The business plan was challenging, but it was very educational. The entire thing has been amazing,” said Ms. Aroca-Ouellette.
Another Memorial Shad participant, Robert Sheardown, is also from Vancouver. And, although he is a long way from home, he’s happy he made the decision to come to the east coast for his Shad experience.
“It’s been everything I thought it would be and more. I thought it was going to mostly academic. Creating a business plan was a highlight for me but the trips added a lot more to it. I’ve also learned about Newfoundland. Shad is a fantastic experience and people shouldn’t worry about the homesickness because when you get here the people are so great and it’s a whole lot of fun,” said Mr. Sheardown.
Students attended 32 lectures by renown and award winning researchers and teachers. They attended about 30 different hands-on seminars, went on six field trips around the province, enjoyed recreation activities, served on various committees and worked on a house project with a national theme. This year’s theme was, “How would you enhance/improve all-season human-powered commuting in Canada?” The Shads developed a 25-page business plan and presented their ideas to a panel of expert judges.
“This was a great experience for them. Judges included Iris Petten, chair of the Board of Regents, Brian Hurley, director of the Gardiner Centre and Maurice Tuff, a serial high-tech entrepreneur. The winning team will represent Shad Memorial in the Shad Cup in October. The MUN team has consistently done well at the Shad Cup having won the overall prize twice before so we’re hopeful for another win this year,” said Dr. Lye.