CTF Accelerator Program Connects Students with Mentors and Provides Hands-On Learning Experiences

Apr. 04, 2019

​Students in Grades 5-9 at five CBE schools are learning how to creatively solve problems, access individual expertise and collaborate with others to achieve common goals through the CTF Accelerator Program. The program, in partnership with Mindfuel, helps students develop and explore their passions within the Career and Technology Foundations (CTF) program of study. 

Students from Dr. George Stanley School, Senator Patrick Burns School, Peter Lougheed School, Twelve Mile Coulee School, and William D. Pratt School used rapid prototyping to create innovative solutions in food product design, 3D printing, promoting digital literacy, and repurposing community spaces. Rapid prototyping is based on the philosophy of learning by doing, and making incremental adjustments through each design stage. Mentors from a variety of different professions and entrepreneurial initiatives visited classrooms and helped students learn to use rapid prototyping on their projects. Students were also developing their expertise in their occupational area skills, knowledge and technologies. School used rapid prototyping to create innovative solutions in food product design, 3D printing, promoting digital literacy, and repurposing community spaces. Rapid prototyping is based on the philosophy of learning by doing, and making incremental adjustments through each design stage. Mentors from a variety of different professions and entrepreneurial initiatives visited classrooms and helped students learn to use rapid prototyping on their projects. Students were also developing their expertise in their occupational area skills, knowledge and technologies.

To celebrate their journey and share their ideas with a larger audience, students participated in a showcase at the University of Calgary. Over 200 U of C professors, community partners and pre-service teachers attended the event to provide an audience and feedback for the students.   

Students from Twelve Mile Coulee School explored how to create fast food snacks. One team focused on re-developing pop-tarts and were challenged by their mentor to approach the problem through a computational thinking lens. Students compared their recipe to a computer code and with each iteration had to determine the aspects of the code that needed reprograming. For example, as they explored how to create the correct consistency for their strawberry filling, they adjusted their code to include thickening agents like cornstarch to changing the preparation of strawberries by trying to dehydrate them. Through their journey, the students realized that every approach they took to make the snack healthier impacted its texture. Ultimately, they settled on using flavoured sugar crystals to create their product. 

A group of students from Dr. George Stanley School explored digital literacy by asking the question, how might we increase students’ awareness of online dangers? Their approach was to create a digital choose your own adventure game that would allow students to uncover the potential dangers of their online choices. Students explored coding their game in Scratch, telling the story through PowerPoint and creating a web based platform. Through each prototype, the team had to balance between meeting a deadline, product quality and effectiveness of achieving their target goal. Their final product is an online survey that tells students why certain choices are dangerous.

The CTF Accelerator Program is an ongoing learning initiative that is open too all CBE teachers. The program is offered in the winter and spring each year. This year’s program is supported through a grant from EducationMatters.