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T. A. Blakelock to offer I-STEM learning program

I-STEM (an acronym for innovation, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) program is open to students from Halton District School Board (HDSB) and beyond entering Grade 9.
Thomas A. Blakelock High School | Thomas A. Blakelock High School
Thomas A. Blakelock High School | Thomas A. Blakelock High School

T. A. Blakelock High School in Oakville will offer the much sought-after I-STEM program for secondary students for the first time this upcoming 2023/24 school year.

Through this four-year program, students will develop entrepreneurial thinking skills, engineering design, design thinking skills and global competencies.

I-STEM is an acronym for innovation, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. This program is open to HDSB students entering starting in Grade 9.

Once enrolled, the students get interdisciplinary learning opportunities connecting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in the classroom and scope for experiential learning and mentorship with the community and workplace. Upon finishing the program with 13 required courses, they receive an I-STEM certificate.

The Halton District School Board (HDSB) first introduced the I-STEM program at Burlington's Aldershot High School in 2018, followed by Elsie MacGill Secondary School in Milton in 2022.

Jessica Lim is a proud and excited mom whose son got accepted to I-STEM at T. A. Blakelock. Lim believes the integrated and real-world problem-solving model of I-STEM is brilliant if guided and executed well. She loves how the program prepares students for the real world with all the transferable skills and collaboration, not just learning theory. 

Four years ago, her daughter, graduating from Grade 12, could not consider the I-STEM program offered at Aldershot High School in Burlington because of its distance from her home. 

"My younger child, Jonah and I had been to an Aldershot open house, and he fell in love with the model of the program. We were super excited to hear that it was going to be available in time for my son's grade 9 year at T.A. Blakelock," Jessica shared. 

The online application process for the 2023-2024 school year closed on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. The family also connected with a current grade 12 I-STEM student at Aldershot to talk about her experiences before deciding to accept the offer.

Despite I-STEM being a fantastic program with an equitable opportunity to apply, students who reside outside Blakelock's boundaries will have to find their way to school by being driven or using public transit, which will create a barrier for some. 

HDSB also introduced the regional four-year program at Elsie MacGill Secondary School in Milton, beginning the current school year. 

St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Secondary School, Oakville, will also offer an integrated STEAM program this upcoming school year. Run by Halton District Catholic School Board (HCDSB), the school will accept secondary students into the program based on "alignment with a student's long-term goals, interests and aspirations."

HCDSB states STEAM is "a holistic approach to learning that interconnects multiple subject areas: science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics."

Students will use these subjects as access points to learn through inquiry, collaboration, project-based learning and design thinking.