Some of Canada's best and brightest young minds in St. John's for Shad program

Fifty-six high school students from all over Canada are at MUN for Shad, an intensive 27-day program focusing on science, technology, engineering, the arts and math.

Program focuses on science, technology, engineering, the arts and math

Shad students Kathryn Strayer and Scott Oxholm work on a project as part of a lecture earlier this month. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

If the halls of Memorial University in St. John's look a little younger this month don't be alarmed. 

Fifty-six high school students from all over Canada are at MUN for Shad, an intensive 27-day program focusing on science, technology, engineering, the arts and math.

"They can spend the month of July at 13 university campuses across the country," says Tim Jackson, Shad's president and CEO.

"They are exposed to lectures, workshops and field trips, and they are given a real-world problem to solve, exposing them to experimenting, prototyping, being an entrepreneur, and it's a chance to be with other like-minded people students."

Shad president and CEO Tim Jackson jokes that as an accountant he learns a lot from visiting the 13 campuses across Canada. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Shad, named for a river near where the program was founded in 1980, has been a fixture at Memorial since 2002, when the university joined the program. 

Engineering professor Leonard Lye has been involved since the beginning, and the program director since 2007. 

"It's a lot of fun," Lye said.

"You're involved with really smart people. It's very exciting, you learn a lot from the students. They are up to speed on all the latest trends. As you get older you are trying to keep up with them."

Memorial University professor Leonard Lye, left, has been involved with Shad since 2002. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Lye said the 56 Grade 10, 11 and 12 students come from nearly every province and one territory. 

During the program they take part in lectures from university professors, hear from guest speakers like former premier Danny Williams, and go on field trips to places like Fogo Island.

"It's really an eye-opening experience for most of them," said Lye.

"They've never been here and they look at the scenes here, interact with the people. They are totally enthralled just by the experience."

Shad students take apart a lawn mower and then piece it back together. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

The program also shows students, like Prince Edward Island's Charlotte Armstrong, what is out there for them when high school ends.

"I really like chemistry as a science but I'm actually thinking about a career in history," she told CBC.

"Shad has helped me realize that I can do that, that I can follow my interests."

Prince Edward Island's Charlotte Armstrong, left, works with her team in the robotics lecture. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

With more than 16,000 SHAD fellows having already completed the program, organizers boast the networking possibilities.

Even in day-to-day activities, former Shad students are hired to help out the current ones.

Katie Harris of St. John's travelled to the University of British Columbia in 2011 as part of Shad and has been hired this summer as a program assistant.

She recently completed her third year of astronomy and astrophysics study at the University of Toronto.

"I went to a relatively small school here so it was really great to go and meet other students that were really interested in STEAM [science, technology, engineering, arts and math] and business," Harris said.

"It really inspired me to dream big and go to a big university and broaden my horizons."

The student becomes the program assistant: Katie Harris took part in Shad as a student in 2011; she's returned home this summer to work for the program. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Jackson said while 56 students have come here to study this month, students from here are also taking part.

There are 50 students from Newfoundland and Labrador at the 12 other Shad campuses, Jackson said, with the bill being footed by the Hibernia Management and Development Company.

The public is invited to an open house on Thursday, July 27, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the engineering building at MUN.