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Down to a science

The sixth annual Science Rendezvous Kingston promises to be bigger and better than ever

Square-wheeled tricycles, birds of prey, a quarantine tent and robots in action.

Those are just a few examples of the 60 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) stations that are part of this year’s Science Rendezvous Kingston at the Rogers K-Rock Centre on Saturday, May 7

The free event features 20 Queen’s University departments, 12 from the Royal Military College of Canada, two from St. Lawrence College and a large number of citizen science groups. The event runs from 10 am to 3 pm and the first 2,000 families will receive a take-home booklet filled with science experiments.

“The idea of Science Rendezvous is to increase and stimulate interest in the STEM subjects,” says lead organizer Lynda Colgan (Education). “The event has just gotten bigger and bigger over the years. We are expecting more than 4,000 people from the greater Kingston community to attend and it is possible only because of the hard work, dedication and enthusiasm of more than 350 volunteers who year after year prepare engaging and educational activities for people of all ages.”

Each year, the diversity of the exhibits changes and grows and this year is no different. A highlight this year is a presentation by Nobel Laureate Arthur McDonald. His talk, entitled The Sudbury Neutrino Observatory: Observing Massive Neutrinos from the Sun, will start at noon.

Other unique events include:

  • A Chemistry Magic Show — 10:30 am and 1:30 pm by Dr. Philip Jessop (Chemistry) and his team of graduate students 
  • Birds of Prey — 11 am and 2 pm Canadian Raptor Conservancy
  • Lasers: From nanotech to epic movies — 11:30 am by Dr. James Fraser (Physics)
  • The Kingston Police Force Canine Unit — 1 pm
  • Will Sanderson, Arctic and Antarctic expedition member — 2:30 pm

“This year we are bringing in a quarantine tent as our public service type display,” says Dr. Colgan. “People can visit the tent where there are medical students in period costumes made up to look like they have different diseases such as smallpox, measles and polio. They can describe the disease including symptoms and cures. They also talk about why vaccines are important.” The Quarantine Tent is funded in part by the Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen’s.

Dr. Colgan adds another highlight of Science Rendezvous Kingston will be the three square-wheeled tricycles that ride smoothly along on their inverted catenary roadway. The tricycles were designed and constructed by 18 first-year applied science students, the third consecutive year for such a collaboration between the Education Community Outreach Centre and the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering).

“After all, everyone believes bicycles and tricycles must have round wheels. The wow of operational square-wheeled vehicles will attract a lot of attention,” she says.

Self-care isn't selfish

  • Rebecca Luce-Kapler, Dean of the Faculty of Education, joins in the pet therapy during the Revive & Thrive event hosted at Duncan McArthur Hall on Wednesday.
    Rebecca Luce-Kapler, Dean of the Faculty of Education, joins in the pet therapy during the Revive & Thrive event hosted at Duncan McArthur Hall on Wednesday.
  • Sarah Horsford, the Faculty of Education's Personal Counsellor, sits in the conversation ball pit during the Revive & Thrive event hosted at Duncan McArthur Hall.
    Sarah Horsford, the Faculty of Education's Personal Counsellor, sits in the conversation ball pit during the Revive & Thrive event hosted at Duncan McArthur Hall.
  • Paul Carl, administrative assistant for the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program, teaches students how to make a drumstick as part of a drum awakening ceremony.
    Paul Carl, administrative assistant for the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program, teaches students how to make a drumstick as part of a drum awakening ceremony.
  • Students make their own buttons at a table set up along Student Street in Duncan McArthur Hall on Wednesday as part of Revive & Thrive wellness day.
    Students make their own buttons at a table set up along Student Street in Duncan McArthur Hall on Wednesday as part of Revive & Thrive wellness day.
  • The dogs brought in by Therapeutic Paws of Canada were a popular attraction as students, staff and faculty lined up to take part in a bit of pet therapy.
    The dogs brought in by Therapeutic Paws of Canada were a popular attraction as students, staff and faculty lined up to take part in a bit of pet therapy.

Sometimes it’s just nice to take a break from your daily routine.

The Faculty of Education hosted a Revive and Thrive! wellness day on Wednesday, April 20 at Duncan McArthur Hall, organized by its personal counsellor and Education Students’ Mental Health Initiative (ESMHI).

With a focus on mental wellness creativity and self-care, participants were able to take part in a number of activities including therapy dogs, yoga, massage, button making and Lego.

The ESMHI was created in 2015 by a group of graduate students, with the support of the Faculty of Education’s Personal Counsellor Sarah Horsford, who recognized a need to support mental health and wellbeing at West Campus. The existence of Ms. Horsford’s role has contributed to educating and changing the culture regarding mental health within the faculty, and the community as a whole.

A key part of her role, Ms. Horsford explains, is programming and throughout the year she and the ESMHI have hosted “uplifting” activities such as posting positive notes, cookie decorating, a mental health awareness day coinciding with Bell Let’s Talk Day and an information fair to highlight the range of support resources available at Queen’s.

Ms. Horsford also provides a series of workshops to the Bachelor of Education students that place a focus on self-care – a key element for their future careers as teachers.

“Self-care is actually something that is needed in order for us to have stamina in our careers, especially when we are helping others,” Ms Horsford explains. “So this type of day is an opportunity for everybody to practice what we’ve been talking about in the sessions all year long and it also helps bring the community together because everybody’s involved – a lot of staff are involved as well as community partners who have come in for the day.” 

There's no place like home

Queen’s honorary degrees will be reserved for alumni in 2016 in celebration of the university’s 175th anniversary.

[Logo for the 175th anniversary]
Queen's 175th Anniversary

This year’s spring convocation ceremonies at Queen’s University will give the honorees the feeling of coming home. The 11 recipients this spring are all Queen’s alumni and feature musicians The Tragically Hip, journalist Ali Velshi and former Queen’s University Chaplain Brian Yealland among others.

“Bestowing honorary degrees on Queen’s University alumni as we prepare to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the university is very fitting,” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “This year we are celebrating the university’s unique legacy while recognizing our leaders in academia, business, science and the arts.”

The ceremonies get underway Thursday, May 19 and wrap up Friday, June 10. The recipients include:

Hailing from Kingston, and with close ties to the Queen's community, The Tragically Hip formed in 1984. Consisting of lead singer Gordon Downie, guitarist Paul Langlois, guitarist Rob Baker, bassist Gord Sinclair and drummer Johnny Fay, The Hip has released 12 studio albums, two live albums, one EP and 54 singles. The group has won 14 Juno awards and nine of its albums have reached No. 1 in Canada. In addition to their musical contributions, the band members are also significant for the ways in which they have given back to local and national communities and agencies, contributed to international aid, and helped preserve the environment. Thursday, May 19 at 2:30 pm.

Donald Creighton Rae Sobey

Donald Creighton Rae Sobey (Com’57) joined the board of Empire Company Limited in 1963. In 2004, he retired as Chairman of Empire Company Limited and retired from the Board in 2015. He was inducted into the Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame and Canadian Business Hall of Fame, and is a member of the Order of Canada. Mr. Sobey established the D & R Sobey Atlantic Leadership Scholarships at Queen’s University, which are awarded to Atlantic Canadian students who demonstrate academic achievement and leadership. He also serves on the Smith School of Business Advisory Board at Queen’s University. Monday, May 30 at 2:30 pm.


P. Kim Sturgess

P. Kim Sturgess (Sc’77) is the founder and CEO of Alberta WaterSMART, an organization committed to improving water management through better technologies and practices. In 2007, she was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women and in 2012 was named the Business Woman of the Year in Calgary. She also earned the Queen’s Alumni Achievement Award. Ms. Sturgess is a member of the Order of Canada. Wednesday, June 1 at 2:30 pm.

Ronald McCallum

After teaching law at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, for 18 years, Ronald McCallum (LLM’74) was appointed to a full professorship at the University of Sydney. This appointment made Mr. McCallum the first totally blind person to be appointed to a full professorship at any Australian or New Zealand university. He served as Dean of the University of Sydney Law School between 2002 and 2007. Friday, June 3 at 2:30 pm.

Eileen Hutton

Eileen Hutton (NSc’74) is currently the Assistant Dean in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Director of Midwifery at McMaster University. She was the first midwife member of the Council of the Society of Obstetrician and Gynecologist of Canada. She is the first midwife ever to hold a professorship in the Netherlands. The Association of Ontario Midwives recently awarded her the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her role in education, research and contribution to the profession. Monday, June 6 at 10 am.

Piers Handling

Piers Handling (Artsci’71) has been the director and CEO of Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), a charitable cultural organization with a mission to transform the way people see the world, through film, since 1994. Under Mr. Handling’s direction, the organization has grown to become an internationally renowned cultural institution. In 2014, Mr. Handling was invested into the Order of Ontario, the province’s highest official honour, by Lieutenant-Governor David Onley. Monday, June 6 at 2:30 pm.

Debra Pepler (PHE’73, Ed’74) has been a member of the Department of Psychology at York University since 1988 and works closely with Queen’s professor Wendy Craig as co-scientific director of Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network (PREVNet). This is a collaborative and interdisciplinary initiative that brings together 62 researchers from 27 Canadian universities and 49 national organizations. Tuesday, June 7, 2016 at 10 am.

Ali Velshi

Ali Velshi (Artsci’94) graduated from Queen’s with a degree in religious studies. He was most recently the host of Ali Velshi On Target, a nightly primetime show on Al Jazeera America. He’s also reported from the U.S. presidential campaign trail, as well as covering ISIL and the Syrian refugee crisis from Turkey, the days leading up to the nuclear deal from Tehran, the debt crisis in Greece, and the funeral of Nelson Mandela in South Africa. Tuesday, June 7 at 2:30 pm.

Brian Yealland (MDiv’72) was ordained a United Church minister the same year as his graduation. Following the retirement of Padre A. Marshall Laverty, Rev. Yealland worked as the Queen’s University Chaplain from 1983 until 2013. He is the recipient of the Queen’s University Distinguished Service Award, the John Orr Award from the Queen’s Toronto Alumni Branch, and the Queen Elizabeth ll Diamond Jubilee Medal. Wednesday, June 8 at 10 am.

Wendy Jane Crewson

Wendy Jane Crewson (Artsci’77) graduated from Queen’s and moved on to study theatre in London. She has worked all over the world and her career includes more than 100 titles including The Santa Clause with Tim Allen and Air Force One with Harrison Ford. She also continues her role as Dr. Dana Kinney on Saving Hope. Wednesday, June 8 at 2:30 pm.

Stephen H. Safe

Stephen H. Safe (MSc’62) graduated from Queen’s and was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship to study for his doctorate at the University of Oxford in England. His scientific career has covered several different areas of research that include his early studies on the chemistry of pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). His work has helped regulate and reduce levels of this compound in wildlife, humans and food. Friday, June 10 at 10 am.

Choral work wins national award

Benjamin Bolden, an associate professor in Queen’s University’s Faculty of Education, has won a national competition for choral music.

[Ben Bolden]
Ben Bolden of the Faculty of Education is the winner of the 2016 Competition for Choral Writing. (Supplied Photo) 

Dr. Bolden’s composition Tread Softly, a setting of The Cloths of Heaven by poet W.B. Yeats, was recently selected by Choral Canada as the winner of 2016 Competition for Choral Writing.

As a result, the Tread Softly will be published by Cypress Choral Music, a co-sponsor of the competition, and be premiered by the 2016 National Youth Choir of Canada during Choral Canada’s Podium biennial choral conference and festival in Edmonton on Friday, May 20.

He also receives the $1,500 Dianne Loomer Award.

“Having the piece performed by the National Youth Choir is an immense privilege,” Dr. Bolden says. “To think that all these superb young musicians will be dedicating their energy, expertise, musicality and spirit to bring my music alive… it is such a gift that the music I imagine, and hope might work, and write down as black marks on a page, can actually see the light of day and become beautiful through their voices.”

Tread Softly is an a cappella choral work which Michael Zaugg, guest conductor for the 2016 National Youth Choir of Canada, says uses “a lush tonal language” to set the words by Yeats.

“The well-structured dynamic and melodic development brings the text to the forefront and engages the performer and listener alike,” Mr. Zaugg adds. “I look forward to presenting these soaring melodies and rich harmonies in concert with the National Youth Choir of Canada.”

Dr. Bolden says he was inspired to compose the piece by a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson, an internationally-recognized expert on education in the arts, where he spoke about the importance of educating children in a way that allows them to be who they need to be, and of honouring their dreams.

“He closed the talk by reading the poem ‘The Cloths of Heaven’ by William Butler Yeats,” he says. “He was using the poem to remind policy makers, educators, and parents that, every day and everywhere, children lay their dreams at our feet. We need to tread softly.”

Dr. Bolden’s research interests include the learning and teaching of composing, creativity, community music, arts-based research, Web 2.0 technologies in education, teacher knowledge, and teachers’ professional learning. He is an associate composer of the Canadian Music Centre and his compositions have been performed by a variety of professional and amateur performing ensembles.

Founded in 1980, Choral Canada is the national voice of the Canadian choral community, representing and uniting a network of conductors, educators, composers, administrators, choral industry leaders, and more than 42,000 choral singers. 

Do relationships matter?

National study shows a decline in risky adolescent behaviours and reports of bullying others among Canadian youth.

Findings from the 2014 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey (HBSC) show that relationships with family, school, peers, and community play a critical role in the health of young people. Queen’s University researchers William Pickett (Public Health Science) and John Freeman (Education) were co-principal investigators on the study.

The HBSC is a cross-national research study conducted in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) internationally and with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) nationally. The survey was administered to 29,784 students in Grade 6 through 10 from 377 Canadian schools across all 10 Canadian provinces and three Canadian territories.

New research has shown positive social support leads to positive health outcomes.

“The Government of Canada is pleased to support Queen’s University in the development of this report,” says Jane Philpott, Minister of Health. “Positive relationships and support systems are essential to the health of our youth. The study will help inform the work we do to improve their long-term health and well-being.”

A number of key findings emerged from the report:

  • Positive social supports provided from parents, teachers, friends, and communities are critical for positive health outcomes.
  • Family matters—for virtually all relationships examined, family support was the most important source of support linked to better health outcomes.
  • The prevalence of cannabis use peaked in 2002 and has declined ever since. Cannabis use among Canadian youth is now at its lowest level ever in the 24-year study, at 23% for both boys and girls.
  • Reports of bullying others have declined 50% since the last survey, but reports of being victimized have remained the same.
  • Girls were particularly vulnerable to mental health issues, especially Grade 9-10 girls who reported more negatively on mental and emotional health outcomes than all other groups.
  • Only 1 in 5 Canadian youth reported participating in enough moderate to vigorous physical activity to meet Canada’s physical activity guidelines (i.e., 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day).
  • Approximately 1 on 3 boys and 1 in 4 girls were classified as having overweight or obesity by their reported Body Mass Index (BMI).
  • Over half of the reported injuries were experienced during healthy pursuits, such as sport participation.

“This report from the Canadian HBSC team focuses on the link between supportive relationships and adolescents’ health,” explained William Pickett of Queen’s University, who is co-Principal Investigator of the study. “Do relationships matter to the health of young people in Canada? Clearly, the answer to that question is yes.”

For the last 25 years, Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) has been a vital source of information in Canada, describing the health experiences of young Canadians and factors that determine their health. The survey is coordinated by the Social Program Evaluation Group (SPEG) at Queen’s University, and researchers from Queen's University, the University of British Columbia, McGill University, and the University of New Brunswick collaborated on the study.

“The declines in many risk behaviours, like cannabis use and bullying, are good news,” said Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc of the University of British Columbia, a co-Investigator on the study. “But there are still areas of concern. Too many young people aren’t meeting the Canada guidelines for physical activity. Rates of overweight and obesity among adolescents and negative mental health outcomes, especially for Grade 9 to 10 girls, remain priority issues.”

The Canadian HBSC Report is available on the website.

Breathing new life into the PEC

Queen’s University recently has made progress in its plans to revitalize the former Physical Education Centre (PEC) as a centre for health, wellness and innovation. Jasmine Toor, Communications Specialist, spoke with Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), to learn what the plan will mean for the university.

The revitalization plan for the former Physical Education Centre (PEC) sees the building transformed into a health, wellness and innovation centre.
Construction of the former Physical Education Centre (PEC) was completed in 1931, offering gymnasiums as well as swimming, diving and water polo facilities.

Jasmine Toor: What progress has been made on the university’s plan to revitalize the former PEC building?

Alan Harrison: The university has made significant progress. Queen’s retained CS&P Architects in fall 2015 to produce a functional program and conceptual design for the revitalized building. The preliminary business case for the project is complete and we have initiated the work that will yield a more reliable cost estimate (known as a class B estimate). Our hope is that the first phase of the project, the demolition of much of the interior, will commence early in 2017. Queen’s has raised a significant portion of the total cost of the project, the class D estimate for which is $87 million.   

JT: What was the impetus that led to the decision to redevelop the building?

AH: A structural assessment by an external consultant found that the building was in excellent shape and thus could provide a considerable amount of additional space at a relatively low cost per square foot, if renovated, in comparison to a newly constructed building. The Queen's Health, Wellness and Innovation Centre affords us a wonderful opportunity to utilize and revitalize valuable space in the heart of campus.

JT: What will the revitalized building be used for?

AH: The major constituent parts of this project are engineering, innovation and health and wellness. The revitalized building will enhance both the quality of our student experience and the quality of our research facilities by aligning academic and non-academic uses for the building.  Queen’s has a longstanding reputation of offering our students an exceptional educational and extra-curricular learning experience. When completed, the project will be a prominent symbol of Queen’s as the quintessential balanced academy, the Canadian research-intensive university with a transformative learning experience.

The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science will be a major occupant of the revitalized building. Undergraduate learning in engineering will be supported by an interactive Learning Commons that will allow more than 500 mechanical and materials engineering students to work individually or collaboratively on projects and assignments in an environment that offers state-of-the-art information and computing technology. Additionally, a number of high-technology, leading-edge teaching and design studios will each support between 75 and 150 undergraduate students.

Interdisciplinary laboratory space will support more than 20 faculty researchers working on bioengineering, environmental and biomedical research. This laboratory space will allow considerable expansion of interdisciplinary research, primarily but not exclusively in the areas of chemical and civil engineering. The benefits of this laboratory space will accrue not only to the researchers but also to their graduate students.

The Queen’s Health, Wellness and Innovation Centre affords us a wonderful opportunity to utilize and revitalize valuable space in the heart of campus.

— Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)

JT: How does this plan align with Queen’s commitment to enhanced health and wellness related facilities?

AH: The Wellness Centre is an integral part of the revitalization project. The new Wellness Centre will allow us to co-locate services, so anyone seeking counselling is assured of privacy.  By combining health, counselling and accessibility services together in one centrally located and visible location, along with three gymnasia and other athletic and recreation facilities, the revitalized building will provide opportunities to integrate physical and mental health, connecting them with the student experience.

Furthermore, the new Wellness Centre will be able to provide us with the increased capacity and flexibility to meet the rising demand across the spectrum of wellness services and expand in response to the evolving needs of our student population. This was acknowledged by the 2012 report of the Principal’s Commission on Mental Health, which recommended a new and centralized location for student wellness services.

The completion of Queen’s Gymnasium in 1931:
“It is modern in every respect; we can hold up our heads and boast of one of the finest gymnasiums in Dominion. The undergraduates will reap the benefits and it behooves them to carry on and bring more athletic honors to Queen’s. Swimming and diving and water-polo facilities are now open for the Queen’s natatorialartists and soon graduates should hear that Queen’s is once more carrying off championships in this new athletic field.”

JT: How does the revitalization project align with Queen’s commitment to innovation?

AH: Queen’s has committed to increasing the number of new opportunities for experiential and entrepreneurial learning, improving intra-university collaboration through new programs and curriculum innovation, and creating new and innovative ways for students to develop fundamental academic skills. The new engineering space of the building will include an Innovation Hub. This and other space in the refurbished building dedicated to innovation will result in a considerable expansion of the Queen’s Innovation Connector (QIC), which will support and allow the development of a core strength of the QIC, which is its interdisciplinary nature.

Students from across the university will have access to the resources, the networks and the mentors that will help transform their ideas into products and services. They will work in diverse teams to address important problems and identify the solutions that will yield benefits not only for our region, but nationally and globally too. The innovation component of the redevelopment plan also aligns with the federal government’s focus on innovation as an important component of university research.

'Right tool, right time'

Thanks to a new app, music teachers and their students are able to collaborate effectively between lessons.

Notemaker allows users to make real-time comments on video and audio recordings.

Notemaker allows users to make real-time comments on video and audio recordings. It was created through the Music Education in a Digital Age (MEDA) Project, directed by Queen’s University’s Rena Upitis (Education), in partnership with Concordia University and the Royal Conservatory.

Annotation apps are not new, Dr. Upitis explains, but what makes Notemaker different is that it is the only one that allows a dialogue among multiple commenters directly on a recorded work, either video or audio.

“The technical piece that makes this app unique is that it can be used with multiple users, multiple times. So that makes it extraordinarily powerful,” Dr. Upitis says. “It’s dynamic, it’s multi-user, it’s the kind of teaching and learning that we are doing these days.”

Music lessons often take place once or twice a week and the communication often ends when the lesson does. However, with Notemaker, the communication continues.

“So when you are sitting at a piano lesson and your teacher tells you something, your teacher interrupts you partway through a piece and says try this differently. You get it and you pay attention but you can’t re-create that moment when you are practising,” Dr. Upitis says. “Whereas if you’ve done a video and the teacher writes a comment in ‘This is what I meant at the lesson, right here you need to raise your elbow,’ then you can play it again and again and see where your elbow isn’t raised and then say ‘Okay I get it’ and apply it to the practice. In a lesson the moment has passed but with Notemaker the moment can be brought back again and back again.”

The app is part of the larger MEDA Project, which has resulted in four digital tools – iSCORE, DREAM, Notemaker and Cadenza –that comprise The Music Tool Suite. The multi-year project is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. The other key for Notemaker is the recognition that learning has moved beyond the classroom setting.

“It is very exciting and it meets two very important needs,” says Dr. Upitis. “One is to recognize the contemporary pull of mobile devices for young musicians and the other is to provide scaffolding for teachers to be able to work with students mid-week between lessons. It’s really intuitive and because it meets a pedagogical need I think whatever learning they may have to do to figure out the app, it’s worth it and not terribly difficult, especially if they are using phones already, which many of them are.

“This is the right tool at the right time for this context and we’re loving the response we’re getting.”

Dr. Upitis adds that with its flexibility and multi-user sharing, Notemaker can be applied far beyond music education. If there’s a video and feedback being sought, whether it’s sports training, theatre, dance or creating a preparing a presentation for work, Notemaker is an ideal platform.

While it is an exciting, new tool, at the heart of the app is something that has always been the key to learning.

“The other thing Notemaker does is the most important of all, which is it motivates people. People are motivated to practice when they can see their progress and when they can feel they are getting feedback that is directed and helpful and they can link that feedback to their work,” Dr. Upitis says. “Ultimately it is motivation that matters in every kind of learning. If kids are intrinsically motivated to do whatever the task is at hand that’s what’s going to propel them forward. It’s not the app. It’s the learning. And when they fall in love with the learning and fall in love with the activity or discipline that’s what you want taking over. For us an app like this provides that motivational bridge, that pedagogical bridge, the collaborative bridge, but ultimately, in our case, it’s about learning to play and love music. Not about learning to love and play an app.”

Celebrating release of final report

  • Approximately 50 members of the Queen's community took part in a drumming circle hosted by the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program.
    Approximately 50 members of the Queen's community took part in a drumming circle hosted by the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program.
  • Leading the drumming circle are, from left: Lindsay Morcom, Assistant Professor and ATEP Coordinator; Rena Upitis, Professor of Arts Education; Kate Freeman, ATEP Liaison; Janice Hill, Director of the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre; and Vanessa McCourt, Aboriginal Advisor.
    Leading the drumming circle are, from left: Lindsay Morcom, Assistant Professor and ATEP Coordinator; Rena Upitis, Professor of Arts Education; Kate Freeman, ATEP Liaison; Janice Hill, Director of the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre; and Vanessa McCourt, Aboriginal Advisor.
  • ATEP Program Assistant Paul Carl takes part in the drumming circle marking Tuesday's release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report.
    ATEP Program Assistant Paul Carl takes part in the drumming circle marking Tuesday's release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report.
  • Approximately 50 members of the Queen's community took part in a drumming circle hosted by the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program.
    Approximately 50 members of the Queen's community took part in a drumming circle hosted by the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program.

With Tuesday’s release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report, a special drumming circle was hosted by the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program (ATEP) at Queen’s University.

Approximately 50 people gathered at Duncan McArthur Hall to take part in the event, honouring the work of the commission and to remember the victims of residential schools.

Lindsay Morcom, Assistant Professor and Coordinator of ATEP, says that commemorating the release of the report is important but adds that nothing will change unless there is a change to the way students are taught Canadian history.

“The reason that we wanted to do it here is that we see a lot of people who don’t understand Canadian history, and it’s because they were never taught it,” she says. “So we all see it as really important to train not only ATEP but all of our teacher candidates in indigenous education so they can teach reconciliation.”

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established as a result of the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Its mandate is to tell Canadians about the 150-year history of the schools, in part through the statements of those whose lives were affected by them.


Education group marking 25th anniversary

[MSTE 25th Anniversary]
The Faculty of Education’s Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education (MSTE) Group is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a special event Oct. 3 at Duncan McArthur Hall. (Supplied Photo)

In the 25 years since the Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education (MSTE) Group was set up in the Queen’s Faculty of Education, much has changed in those areas of teaching and learning.

Computers were starting to really make an impact, awareness of climate change was on the rise and the Internet was something few had used regularly.

Fast forward to today and each has grown exponentially.

These are only some of the changes within the MSTE field over the past quarter century but show clearly how quickly things can change in the study area, which also includes more traditional trades such as culinary arts, automotive studies and woodworking.

To mark the 25 years since its inception, the MSTE Group and the Faculty of Education is hosting a day of events on Oct. 3 at Duncan McArthur Hall, including special guest speakers Bob McDonald, host of CBC’s Quirks and Quarks, and mathematician and sculptor George Hart.

The areas of study within MSTE and the technology used has evolved quickly but so too has the way teaching and learning is applied in today’s schools.

As MSTE coordinator Jamie Pyper points out, the primary purpose of the group is to improve the teaching and learning of mathematics, science and technology education – and that’s technology education as a two word title, not just the use of technology in education – for pre-service teachers, in-service teachers, and students of any grade level.

Over the years, one of the main changes has been seen in community outreach, Dr. Pyper explains. In the past the MSTE Group would welcome visiting scholars and national award winning teachers, and while that still holds true, there is a greater emphasis on MSTE efforts to reach out with events such as Science Rendezvous, MathOlymPIcs and robotics competitions.

Of course, change can also mean opportunity.

“I think it’s been a good thing for us as a group to keep up to date with the changes socially, economically, and so on. Also the changing understanding of what education is all about, the philosophy of education and then the practice of education and how we implement that into the classroom especially in terms of curriculum design, as we are a curriculum-focussed group,” Dr. Pyper says. “Those kinds of changes have had a lasting impact on who we are, what we think about, how we talk together, what we find ourselves gravitating and moving towards in terms of activities. I think that’s been pretty vital.”

Queen’s Faculty of Education has long been at the forefront of education in the fields of mathematics, science and technology education and boasts a state-of-the-art tech education facility that helps prepare teacher candidates for what they will be teaching in school.

“We do have a full tech venue with all the equipment and machines you would ever want to be able to be a tech-ed teacher in elementary or high school,” Dr. Pyper says. “We also have a full suite of science labs, and a mathematics education room that is jam-packed with colour and manipulatives and games, all the stuff that a teacher would need to use in his or her classroom. So it’s very lab-based. MSTE is lab-based here in this building and in our programs. So an MSTE group fits very well here because it, as a group, is supported in the three areas.”

A schedule of the 25th anniversary events on Oct. 3, from 11 am to 5 pm, can be found at educ.queensu.ca/mste-25th.  Everyone is welcome.

Teacher candidates prepare to 'connect kids to their dreams'

Describing the Faculty of Education’s incoming class is not a simple task. There are 278 students who have already completed an undergraduate degree either at Queen’s or another university and are entering the new consecutive bachelor of education program. There are also 248 students who have reached the fifth year of their concurrent education program and joined their consecutive education classmates at Duncan McArthur Hall for their final year. And there are 241 others who are just starting out in the concurrent education program at Queen’s.

[Teacher candidates in Faculty of Education]
Teacher candidates pose for a photo during orientation week activities at Duncan McArthur Hall.

“The atmosphere here is really dynamic. The combination of students entering the final stages of becoming a teacher and others who are just starting out creates a real excitement at Duncan McArthur Hall,” says Rebecca Luce-Kapler, the new Dean of the Faculty of Education. “They bring wide-ranging skills and experiences, but they are united by their dedication to the profession.”

Queen’s has a new consecutive bachelor of education program for 2015-16 following the Ontario government’s decision to extend teacher education programs in the province to four terms and reduce admission by 50 per cent starting this year. The 278 students in the program began the first of four successive terms in May 2015, and will complete their degrees at the end of August 2016.

“We exceeded our enrolment targets, which we hoped would happen,” Dr. Luce-Kapler says. “Even with the extended program, we did better than many universities in Ontario. That says something about Queen’s and our program design.”

One of the unique aspects of the new bachelor of education program design is that every teacher candidate will graduate with a concentration by combining coursework with an alternative practicum, which they can do anywhere in the world. The faculty is now offering a wide variety of concentrations, such as working with Aboriginal education, at-risk youth, environmental education, educational technology, arts education, teaching English as a second language, and teaching and learning outside of schools.

The atmosphere here is really dynamic. The combination of students entering the final stages of becoming a teacher and others who are just starting out creates a real excitement at Duncan McArthur Hall.
– Rebecca Luce-Kapler, Dean, Faculty of Education

At the other end of the academic spectrum, the new concurrent education students will spend four years completing education courses and in-school placements concurrently with courses in their four-year undergraduate degree. During the fifth year of study, students will complete their bachelor of education degree in three successive terms, from September to August.

Queen’s continues to attract a large number of highly qualified applicants for a limited number of positions in the concurrent education program, making it the second most difficult undergraduate program to get into at Queen’s behind commerce. 

“These students have accomplished amazing things. They can choose from many careers, and so the fact they have chosen to be teachers at such a challenging time is exciting and really feeds into the energy here in the faculty,” Dr. Luce-Kapler says.

The students’ enthusiasm has been tempered slightly in recent years as they face a tough job market after they graduate. Dr. Luce-Kapler says it’s a reality faculty and staff members don’t shy away from in their discussions with students. The Education Career Services staff members also assist students as they prepare for the job search after graduation including one-on-one meetings where they can work on their resumés and hone other job-search skills.

The Faculty of Education, for nearly 30 years, has connected students with international schools through the Teachers’ Overseas Recruiting Fair (TORF) held in January. Due to the popularity of teaching overseas, the faculty is offering an online version of TORF throughout the year. The faculty will facilitate job-search workshops and work to place students at internationally accredited schools all year round.

While many graduates will enter the K-12 education system, others will seek opportunities to apply what they have learned in the program in other areas. Inside or outside of a classroom, students in the Faculty of Education are undertaking a noble pursuit, according to Dr. Luce-Kapler.

“Peter Chin, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies, always tells students when they start at Queen’s: ‘Your job is to connect kids to their dreams.’ I think that’s a really powerful vision for our students to have during their time here at Queen’s and beyond.”

Visit the Faculty of Education for more information.


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