Media Releases

1,400 students and teachers to participate in Canada’s largest STEM event for kids

May 12, 2016

University of Toronto Engineering, Google and Actua partner on Innovate U, a day-long STEM event for children in grades 3-8, featuring hands-on coding, circuitry and more

Toronto, ON – More than 1,400 students from Grades 3-8 will descend on the University of Toronto on Friday, May 13 for Innovate U, a massive day of hands-on activities celebrating science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and the power of innovation. The one-day event is a first-of-its-kind partnership between U of T Engineering, Google Canada and Actua, Canada’s largest STEM outreach charity.

Innovate U will engage youth in activities where they are engineering, building and inventing their own innovations and technology – from robotics and genetics to rollercoasters and video games.

Students and teachers from 45 classes across the Greater Toronto Area will peek under the surface of today’s tech, including smartphones, 3D printers and solar cars, to understand how they work—all while experiencing the post-secondary environment in a fun and accessible way.

“Engineers are the innovators, makers and creators solving the world’s greatest challenges, from writing code that controls rovers on Mars, to designing robots that perform surgery on your cells,” says Dawn Britton, director of outreach for U of T Engineering. “We want to show students that technology doesn’t just come in a box — anyone can learn the skills you need to make it work better, go faster, or even invent something totally new.”

The day kicks off with a talk from innovator and young entrepreneur Ann Makosinski. Her first toy was a box of transistors, and she’s been creating ever since — in 2013 she won the global Google Science Fair for inventing the ‘Hollow Flashlight’, which uses the thermoelectric effect to convert radiant body heat into electricity, and in 2014 was named one of TIME’s 30 Under 30.

Students will participate in a series of one-hour workshops exploring the basics of coding, playing with circuitry and learning about polymers by making slime. They will also have the chance to visit the Innovation Centre, featuring exhibits and demonstrations including a student-built Indy 500 race car, Google Cardboard, 3D Selfies, Code Created Music and more.

“The aim behind Innovate U is to inspire Canada’s next generation of technology builders,” said Sam Sebastian, Managing Director of Google Canada. “Ninety-eight percent of Google engineers had some level of exposure to computer science and technology before entering university. Events like today will help Canadian children understand that computer science is not simply the language of ones and zeros. It’s the language of creativity, entrepreneurship and Canada’s future potential.”

Actua CEO Jennifer Flanagan added, “Actua is happy to be supporting Innovate U. It not only prepares youth to be the STEM professionals of tomorrow but shows them they have the skills and capacity to innovate today.”

About the University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering

The University of Toronto’s Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering is the premier engineering school in Canada and among the best in the world. Through excellence in engineering education and research, we prepare the next generation of global engineering leaders and innovators to address the world’s most critical challenges. Through our outreach programs, more than 7,000 elementary and high school students of all backgrounds are inspired by science, technology, engineering and math each year.

About Google Canada

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.  As a global technology leader, Google’s innovations in web search and advertising have made its website a top internet property and its brand one of the most recognized in the world. Google Canada has offices in Waterloo, Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa with over 400 ‘Canooglers’ working on teams across Engineering, Sales, Marketing, PR, Policy, and HR. Engineers at Google Canada work on many of company’s core products including Chrome, Safe Browsing, and Gmail; while the Sales Teams assist Canadian businesses with their digital advertising strategies.

About Actua

Actua is Canada’s leading science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) youth outreach network representing 33 university and college based members. Over 3 million young Canadians have been inspired through their participation in Actua’s hands on educational workshops, camps and community outreach initiatives. Each year, Actua’s growing network of member organizations reach over 250,000 young Canadians in over 500 communities nationwide. At the national level Actua focuses on the engagement of underrepresented audiences through

specialized programs for Indigenous youth, girls and young women, at-risk youth and youth living in Northern and remote communities. Actua’s major funders include: Google Canada, Suncor Energy Foundation, GE Canada and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. For more information about Actua, visit


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