Holy Name of Mary College School (HNMCS) is revolutionizing the way girls’ schools embrace robotics and STEAM education. With a significant portion of students actively participating in Senior School Robotics, HNMCS has solidified its position as a powerhouse in competitive robotics. Breaking the mold of traditional gender expectations, close to one-third of the school’s 150 students in Grades 9 to 12 are engaged in robotics, a ratio rarely seen in any educational institution.
Situated in Mississauga, the school has not only fostered a deep passion for robotics among its students, but it has also gained a reputable standing for utilizing robotics in classroom instruction to foster science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) skills. Implementing robotics as part of the curriculum and co-curricular programming from an early grade level, students at HNMCS kickstart their robotics journey by constructing robots using LEGO bricks. As they progress to Grades 7 and 8, the opportunity to compete arises through the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) team.
However, HNMCS’s true success lies in its senior team, which competes at the highest level, the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). The team’s accolades speak volumes, including winning the Ontario District tournament in 2023. Such achievements are a testament to the power of starting with LEGO, which helps spark interest and enthusiasm for robotics among students. The coding software used to animate LEGO robots is also relatively easy to grasp, enhancing the girls’ engagement and learning experience.
STEAM integration is a cornerstone at HNMCS, ensuring that robotics and other scientific and technical subjects are complemented by artistic elements. Karen Kozma, mentor of the Senior School Robotics team and the original creator of the school’s robotics program, emphasizes the significance of STEAM skills in stimulating girls’ interest in technical fields. She firmly believes that incorporating creativity into the design and marketing of technologies and products is vital for success.
To showcase the robotics program, HNMCS hosts STEM and STEAM events, such as the upcoming STEAM week, where the students’ robot will even perform alongside the choir in the annual spring concert. Additionally, the Middle School at HNMCS provides a design lab where students can embark on creative projects utilizing various technologies. This year, students participating in the FLL tournament will pair their robots with innovation projects centered around bridging the arts and technology, resulting in unique experiences.
With its growing reputation as a regional hub for robotics, STEM, and STEAM, HNMCS is not only inspiring other schools in Ontario but also drawing the attention of institutions across different provinces seeking advice on replicating its success. In just five years, the robotics program has made remarkable progress, becoming a shining example of how integrating robotics and STEAM education can unlock the full potential of students.
Q: What is the ratio of students involved in Senior School Robotics at HNMCS?
A: Close to one-third of the 150 students in Grades 9 to 12 are involved in the Senior School Robotics team at HNMCS, which is a rare ratio to find in any school.
Q: What grade level does the robotics curriculum start at HNMCS?
A: The robotics curriculum at HNMCS starts in the fifth grade, where students begin constructing robots using LEGO bricks.
Q: What competition opportunities are available to the students at HNMCS?
A: Students at HNMCS can join the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) team in Grades 7 and 8, and the senior team competes at the highest level, the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC).
Q: How does HNMCS incorporate STEAM into robotics education?
A: HNMCS believes in integrating arts with STEM, creating an interdisciplinary approach that enhances creativity and problem-solving skills among students.
Q: What kind of events does HNMCS host to showcase their robotics program?
A: HNMCS hosts STEM and STEAM events, such as the upcoming STEAM week, which provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate their robots and even perform alongside the choir in the spring concert.
Q: Is HNMCS recognized for its achievements in robotics?
A: Yes, HNMCS’s senior team has become one of the top teams in Ontario, winning numerous awards, including the Ontario District tournament in 2023.