This Waterloo non-profit wants more kids to get involved in STEAM sports

Launch Waterloo has been helping kids to get involved and compete in science, technology, engineering, art and math fields, also known as STEAM, since 2019. Now, thanks to $1.5 million from the federal government, it plans to take STEAM sports nationally.

Launch Waterloo receives $1.5 million in federal funding to help take STEAM sports nationally

Thanks to a $1.5-million fund from the federal government, Launch Waterloo will take its STEAM sport concept to a new level. Co-founder Tobi Day-Hamilton hopes it will help get more kids motivated in science, technology, engineering, arts and math fields. (Launch Waterloo/Facebook)

A Waterloo non-profit is taking the concept of STEAM sports to the next level by going national, thanks to $1.5 million in federal government funding.

Launch Waterloo has been promoting science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) education for children through programs that add a competitive edge.

"We do it exactly the same way as you could in hockey, or soccer or gymnastics and dance," explained co-founder Tobi Day-Hamilton.

"We put kids in teams and we have coaches and assistant coaches and they tackle challenges in those teams and then they compete in tournaments."

The federal funds will help expand the program to 12 cities in Canada. The organization is also receiving help from InkSmith, a Waterloo tech company, to create a coaching academy and help roll out the curriculum.

"The coaching academy will train those coaches across the country who will be able to take the program from Vancouver to Calgary, up north, to all the way in Halifax," said Day-Hamilton.

Sparking interest from a young age

The organization has two leagues: The Little League for kids as young as kindergarten to Grade 2 and the STEAM League for older grades up to Grade 8.

Day-Hamilton said the organization felt it was important to involve young children because it noticed that girls, as young as six years old, were disengaging in math and science. That motivated the team to reflect on how it could keep kids engaged and interested.

"We created the Littles League and what we do there is ... take books that are based on science, and tech and math, and we read the books with the kids. We do activities around that with the kids, and that really sparks the interest at a young age," she said.

"We find it's really working well. We've had kids gone through Little Leagues and into STEAM League."

Day-Hamilton said the team also works with organizations like House of Friendship and Carizon to make the program accessible for families and kids who may otherwise not have the means to take part.

"We need to go right down to the kids who are really starting to think about this early and get them inspired along the way."