The inaugural Innovation Exchange took place last week at the University of Calgary.

Presented by MindFuel, the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary, Mount Royal University, and Edmonton Public Schools, the Innovation Exchange brought together thought-leaders from government, education, industry, startup and non-profit, and students to discuss innovation, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), creativity and education reform.

“MindFuel aims to help Alberta diversify its economy by empowering the next generation,” says Cassy Weber, MindFuel CEO. “We want kids to be prepared for rewarding, future-proof careers in STEM and we are excited to participate in research that will help action this.”

Highlights from the day included a keynote from world renowned science broadcaster Jay Ingram, a youth panel stacked with incredible thinkers, engaging group discussions regarding potential research topics and rousing closing remarks from Jim Gray, founder of MindFuel (Science Alberta Foundation).

The crux of the conversation was innovation in youth education. Can innovation be taught? If so, how do you teach it? How do we measure innovation in our students, how can they measurably demonstrate it?

Innovation by nature is constant evolution and education reform is a moving target. The aim of the research conducted during the Innovation Exchange event is to illuminate and uncover sustainable curriculum concepts that can prepare students for the future world of work.

The full Innovation Exchange took place over two days, the first day was a conference format with attendees from all industries and backgrounds participating in the discussion and the second day was a breakout session for the research teams from University of Calgary, Mount Royal University and Edmonton Public Schools where insights from day one were discussed and documented.

Discussions ranged from teaching students to practice failure and iteration, the rise of test anxiety and project-based methods to measure innovation that reflect real-world work and move beyond multiple choice and short-answer quizzes.

“The student perspectives and participation was the highlight for me.” said John Taylor, Innovation Exchange attendee. “I urge our government and community leaders to deeply listen to what students have to say and make decisions based on it.”

Jay Ingram’s talk highlighted that some of the roadblocks to innovation are in the communication and early childhood education of science and STEM subjects. Jay’s suggestion to entice the next generation? “Start with the wow, then the why.” Curiosity is an excellent motivator, if we can find ways to truly engage the students using science they will begin to naturally pursue the learning.

Big thanks to the research team who made this event possible, we look forward to pursuing these valuable subjects and releasing findings in the months and years to come.

Left to right: Diali Gupta, Glory Ovie, Ayman Aljarrah, Lynn Moorman, Mark Zwicker, Margaret Glover-Campbell, Caitlin Quarrington, Gabriela Alonso Yanez, Bill Howe, Man-Wai Chu, Douglas MacDonald, Julie-Anne Fritz, Stefan Rothschuh

Research team

Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary:
Marie-Claire Shanahan
Man-Wai Chu
Gabriela Alonso Yanez

Mount Royal University:
Julie-Anne Fritz
Douglas MacDonald
Lynn Moorman

Edmonton Public Schools:
Bill Howe
Aaron Dublenko

Margaret Glover-Campbell
Caitlin Quarrington
Mark Zwicker