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Developing scientific and engineering minds

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Students learn in a state-of-the-art lab in the Guttman Family Science Wing at TanenbaumCHAT.

“The end of week two of university is coming to an end and I had my first chem lab and tutorial yesterday... I knew I would be prepared, thanks to your amazing teaching last year.”

“I just wanted to say thank you so much for preparing me so well for university.”

“I often return to your high school lecture notes to clarify my course material, and recognize a clear advantage your lessons have afforded me compared to my peers' high school chemistry foundation.”

These sentiments, sent from recent TanenbaumCHAT graduates to their former high school teachers, aren’t unusual. The school is proud of its science and engineering programs, its committed and passionate faculty, excellent facilities, and the solid foundation we give our students – particularly for that next step at university.

The school’s rigorous science program provides a wealth of enriching experiences that develop a variety of skills. “Emphasis is placed on fostering sound scientific techniques and on adhering to the scientific method,” says Paula Sousa, Department Head. “We also stress the clear communication and analysis of findings.”

There’s also a strong focus on relevance to the real world. In Megan Hutchinson’s grade 11 biology class, students are preparing for presentations on various areas of genetic technology – cloning, stem cells, and the genome, for example. “They’ve covered the history,” says Megan. “Now we’re looking at how things have progressed to the present day so they can apply what they know to areas of study that are emerging.”

The learning takes place in the Guttman Family Science Wing, opened in 2013, which features five state-of-the-art labs that support evidence-based instruction, inquiry-driven lessons and collaborative learning.

A vast majority of students in TanenbaumCHAT’s first AP Chemistry cohort achieved top honours, allowing them to proceed directly to second year chemistry in a U.S. university should they wish to. In the annual University of Waterloo contests for senior science classes, our students regularly score in the 90th to 98th percentiles.

The Anita and Daniel Chai Engineering Academy, launched in 2016, positioned TanenbaumCHAT to address the much-needed and ever-expanding need for STEM learning. The Academy trains students to develop the “habits of mind” required of engineers and programmers. The program empowers students with an approach to solving so-called “messy” or “wicked” problems that address real-world problems.

“The engineering program has been growing briskly since its inception,” notes teachers Mark Rottmann.  “Grade 9 students learn about the engineering Design Process as an iterative method toward solving non-trivial problems,” he says.  This is used as the backbone for each of the courses, “and students then apply the process while building towers, tearing down computers and controlling other electronics – including robots,” he says. As students progress through the program, they learn Boolean algebra and then simulate their findings via Matlab, a programming language used commonly in university-level engineering courses.

With an eye to fundamentals, inquiry and real-world application, science and engineering studies at TanenbaumCHAT are perfectly configured to equip students with 21st century skills.


Pictured: Students learn in a state-of-the-art lab in the Guttman Family Science Wing at TanenbaumCHAT.