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Elementary Skills Competition introduces students to tech and skilled trades


From building to robotics, thousands of students showcased their skills at the Upper Grand District School Board’s Elementary Skills Competition on Tuesday.

The tournament was held at the University of Guelph, with grades four through eight competing in 11 events related to science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and skilled trades.

“What we’re looking to do is engage students in STEM fields and the skill trades,” said Charles Benyair, a tech educator and STEM lead with the Upper Grand District School Board. “We want students to consider careers in those areas.”

A total of 59 schools took part in the competition. Challenges ranged from following a blueprint, to building standing structures, to remote controlled robotics.

Upper Grand District School Board’s Elementary Skills Competition on April 2, 2024. (Tyler Kelaher/CTV Kitchener)

“It’s fun to imagine a plan and then actually see it coming to life,” explained Annie Sider, a 7th grader from John McCrae Public School.

Educators say the competition offers a hands-on approach in skilled trades learning that can’t normally be found in the classroom.

“You think a certain way when you do tech courses, you problem solve a certain way, you learn to work with your hands in self-reliance,” Benyair told CTV News. “No matter what job or career you choose down the road, you will do better because you have these skill sets.”

Benyair also pointed to the shortage in skilled trades professionals. He said events like this could guide students toward a career in the industry.

Upper Grand District School Board’s Elementary Skills Competition on April 2, 2024. (Tyler Kelaher/CTV Kitchener)

Nolan MacKay and his team from William C. Winegard Public School used computer coding to successfully remote control a LEGO robot and said the competition is another step toward a dream career.

“When I grow up I want to be an engineer so this will be good for a resume,” he added.

The 11 winning teams on Tuesday will go on to represent the Upper Grand District School Board at the Elementary Skills Provincial Championships in Toronto this May. Top Stories


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