School's in for summer: High school students from across Canada at UPEI for SHAD program

UPEI is playing host to 48 of Canada's top high school students this month as part of an award-winning summer learning program called SHAD, for the first time this year.

This is the first year the university has been involved in the national program

'They will learn the creative problem-solving process.... Starting with a big problem and learning to bring it down to a very small level,' says Kim McBurney, co-director of the program. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

UPEI is playing host to 48 of Canada's top high school students this month as part of an award-winning summer learning program called SHAD.

It's the first time the university has hosted the program aimed at young Canadians looking to make a difference in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

This year 16 universities from coast to coast are hosting similar events.

Prof. Andrew Zinck, with UPEI's music department, said he is thrilled to be part of the program.

"It also gives people like me a chance to meet a lot of gifted and wonderful young people who are challenging me today," he said.

Learning the problem-solving process

There are 1,000 students across Canada taking part in SHAD this July, all facing the same challenge — to create a product or service that would help Canadian communities deal with a natural disaster.

"They will learn the creative problem-solving process, entrepreneurship, business plans, pitches. Starting with a big problem and learning to bring it down to a very small level," said Kim McBurney, co-director of the program.

The students have also been learning about P.E.I. and how it connects to this year's theme.

This is the first year UPEI has hosted SHAD students. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

"One of the lectures I found most interesting was about climate change. So we talked about soil erosion and that's especially applicable to Prince Edward Island," said Mia Richmond, a participant of the program.

Many students were excited to experience a different part of Canada than where they are from.

"I was really excited just to get out of my comfort zone. I've been holed up in Mississauga, Ontario my whole life and just coming here and seeing the culture and seeing all these beautiful young minds has been life changing," said John Zhou, another participant.

Learning to make a difference

The aim of the program is to teach students about entrepreneurship and innovation, with the hope students leave seeing how they can make an immediate impact.

The students interact with renowned university faculty and visionary corporate leaders.

As one of their challenges, SHAD students at UPEI created musical instruments out of everyday materials. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

UPEI is one of three new host campuses to join SHAD in 2018, with Mount Allison University and McGill University.

SHAD continues at UPEI until July 27th. The university has a three-year agreement with SHAD, so the program will be back again next summer.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Nancy Russell