In May, 17-year-old Nooran AbuMazen from Waterloo took the top prize in the ninth annual Canadian National Brain Bee competition, held this year at McMaster University. She headed to Copenhagen to represent Canada in the International Brain Bee that took place June 30 to July 4. Nooran placed 2nd overall in Copenhagen.
The Brain Bee competition was founded in the United States in 1996 to encourage high school students interested in neuroscience to consider research and clinical careers in the field. Currently, 50,000 students from 53 countries participate in the events that are held at local, national and international levels. Students are tested on their research and diagnostic skills at each level, supported by working neuroscientists who administer and evaluate the candidates. The top prizes offer cash rewards, and the first prize includes a summer research internship.
Launched in 2014, Frontiers for Young Minds is an online science journal written for kids and, uniquely, reviewed by kids as well. Researchers submit articles on a variety of scientific themes, and children can apply online to be a youth reviewer. While most of the researchers are based at American universities, several are from other institutions around the world, including Daniel Ansari from Western University, and Robert Zatorre and Lesley Fellows from McGill, all of whom write about understanding neuroscience.
In June, Ophea (the Ontario Physical Health and Education Association), a non-profit organization offering programs for healthy living, announced finalists in the inaugural Healthy Schools Certification program. Launched in September 2015, this is a comprehensive six-step program that allows schools to choose one or more health targets to work on over the school year. A point system enables schools to track their progress and earn points to compete for prizes. Ninety-five percent of this year's 113 participants were honoured with certification at either the gold, silver or bronze level at a ceremony in June. The program is funded in part by the Ministry of Education.
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In April, the Ontario Teachers' Federation announced that Taylor Gunn, president of CIVIX, is the winner of the 2016 Greer Award. CIVIX is a national non-profit organization that encourages young people to learn about civics and democracy through active participation. It was created in 2012 as the result of a merger of Student Vote, formed in 2002, and Operation Dialogue, formed in 1999. Student Vote, still its signature program, allows students to participate in parallel elections held in their schools during municipal, provincial and national elections. In another CIVIX program, the Student Budget Consultation, students also work to pay down the national debt, and Rep Day brings students and their local candidates together for dialogue.
The Greer Award has been presented annually since 1947 by the Ontario Teachers' Federation to honour outstanding contributions to publicly funded education.
In June, TVOntario announced the resounding success of TeachOntario, a new online resource that allows teachers across the province to share teaching tips. An online book club and professional learning webinars are among the new initiatives launched for this resource during the year.
The latest from the province's public broadcaster is mPower, a free online math resource for students in kindergarten to grade 6. Programming for students up to grade 3 is currently available, and pilots for grades 3 to 6 will be launched in late October.