Our Programs

UP4 THE CHALLENGE provides middle and high school students with the tools and confidence to address social challenges within their community.  Participants use a human-centred design process to create innovative solutions while developing an appreciation for the potential for STEM as a tool for positive change.

We currently offer programming in Ottawa and Toronto.

Check out our current programs here!

Our Community Partners

Our program would not be what it is without the dedicated support of community partners. By collaborating with organizations that have an intimate understanding of social issues and work directly with people in the community, we enable youth to design solutions for problems that exist for real people. The result is an experience that is invaluable to both program participants and the community members working with our partner organizations.

Parkdale Food Centre

We are fortunate to be working closely with the Parkdale Food Centre, a local Ottawa organization that shares our vision to build healthier, more connected communities. A huge thank you to Karen Secord and Sue Hall for ongoing support!

Learn more about our program with the Parkdale Food Centre here:

Core Program Elements

  • Design Thinking - introduction to how it can create social change for our partner organization

  • Understanding the issues from the users' perspectives through listening, empathy and reflection

  • Hands-on, iterative design in collaboration with our community partner

Through these elements, an awareness of the interdisciplinary nature of design is fostered.

 

Evergreen Brick Works

At Evergreen, our program participants learn about sustainable practices to promote flourishing cities. Isaac Crosby, Lead Hand Urban Agriculture, shares knowledge about Indigenous agricultural practices and different ideas to implement at home and within the wider community. No matter what the season, there is always something to see, smell, or taste in Isaac's gardens!

National Engineering Month 2021

March 11th 2021 online 

In celebration of National Engineering Month, Up4 The Challenge will be hosting an online event for post-secondary students to share how we promote equity, diversity, and inclusion in the STEM fields. Don't miss this chance to get involved and learn about human-centred design and STEM in a fun and hands-on way. Visit NEM Ontario's website here to register!  

Design Challenge for Climate Action
John Polanyi Collegiate Institute

May-June 2021

Up4 The Challenge is delighted to be joining a grade 10 class at JPCI to address climate change from a local, youth perspective. Here's what their teacher shared about our previous programs:

I have had the incredible experience of working with the Up4 The Challenge team for the past two years. Throughout the workshops, students learned a process to solve real world environmental problems using human-centred design thinking and collaboration.  They brainstormed, interviewed stakeholders, designed and presented their prototypes, focusing on social and environmental themes. The excursion to Evergreen Brick Works allowed further exploration and a positive hands on experience.The entire UP4 team is passionate, inspirational and knowledgeable. The students and I have benefited from participating in this program. 

Marla Stone
Assistant Curriculum Leader of Science 
John Polanyi Collegiate Institute

Ryerson Fellowship

Returning Spring 2021

Up4 The Challenge is happy to announce that we will be working with Ryerson University once again as part of their Arts and Contemporary Studies Fellowship program. In 2019 we had the opportunity to work with two amazing students, Devany and Smyrna, and we are looking forward to collaborating with new students this spring!

Design Academy Summer Program

July 2021

This week-long program is currently being co-designed with students in grades 9 and 10 and will be offered for the first time in July 2021.

Stay tuned for more information soon!

Upcoming Events

 
Healthy, eco-friendly food practices in schools
JPCI at Evergreen Brick Works

February - May 2020, Toronto 

Up4 The Challenge partnered with Evergreen Brick Works and Engineers of Tomorrow to provide students from John Polanyi Collegiate Institute with this experiential learning opportunity. Students learned how human-centred design works, how to use their design skills to be social change agents in their communities, and how STEM can help them make this change happen. Thanks to everyone for their efforts and enthusiasm as we shifted to online programming for our final session during the pandemic with this dedicated class.

Sustainable, Food-Secure Cities Design Workshop
Evergreen Brick Works

November 4th 2019, Toronto 

We had thirty students from Lord Lansdowne Junior Public School join us at Evergreen Brick Works for this full-day workshop. After a fun and informative tour with Peter and Isaac, the students prototyped inspiring ways to make the school lunch experience better for their classmates. Their ideas were as diverse and creative as the participants!

Design Thinking Workshop

October 25th 2019, University of Ottawa

This workshop provided future science educators with an introduction to human-centred design and highlighted how the connection between STEM and social impact could be demonstrated to their future students. Participants came up with creative ways to improve the lunch experience for their partners. Their solutions included a portable slow cooker and much more!

Sustainable Cities Design Thinking Workshop
Evergreen Brick Works

June 16th 2019, Toronto

This half-day workshop introduced participants to the importance and challenges of designing sustainable, food-secure cities and guided them through a hands-on human-centred design process. Following a tour of Evergreen Brick Works led by Isaac Crosby, Lead Hand Urban Agriculture, participants created prototypes to redesign the school lunch experience.

Girls in Tech Conference (GITCon 2019)
University of Toronto Schools

April 13th 2019, Toronto

This workshop involved a fun, fast-paced, hands-on design challenge in which our facilitators introduced participants to the importance and challenges of designing sustainable cities. After leading them through a user-centered design process, the girls were challenged to consider how STEM supports the social outcomes from their design.  Check out what happened at the 2019 Girls In Tech Conference!

Sustainable Cities Design Challenge Workshop
Evergreen Brick Works

March 24th 2019, Toronto

The half-day workshop, in celebration of National Engineering Month (NEM2019), introduced participants to the importance and challenges of designing sustainable cities, led them through a hands-on user-centred design process and a specially-developed STEM integration activity to empower an appreciation of how STEM supports social outcomes from their prototypes.

Seedy Sunday at Evergreen Brick Works

March 17th 2019, Toronto

We offered drop-in style, human centred design activities at Evergreen Brick Works during their annual Seedy Sunday event. Kids were challenged to create a physical prototype that would provide a convenient way to get fresh fruits and vegetables to students at school. Designs included portable coolers for veggie pops and an indoor garden supported by rainwater harvesting. Impressive!

Sustainable Cities Challenge 
John Polanyi Collegiate Institute & Evergreen

Feb-March 2019, Toronto

For our initial program with John Polanyi Collegiate Institute in collaboration with Evergreen Brick Works, we challenged students to create a healthier, more secure food environment within the school community. Participants loved learning about urban and Indigenous agricultural practices at Evergreen, the Three Sisters Soup for lunch, as well as building their prototypes!

Design Thinking Workshop
University of Ottawa

November 2, 2018

Our workshop provided Bachelor of Education students with an introduction to human-centred design. They were guided though a hands-on, iterative problem-solving process drawing on empathy for meaningful, creative ideas. Students gained a greater awareness about how math and science fit within this interdisciplinary process and the potential for technology as a tool for positive change.

Fisher Summit Alternative School
in partnership with the Parkdale Food Centre 

October 2017 -  June 2018, Ottawa

Our initial three-week program led middle school students through a human-centred design process in which they had an opportunity to interview their neighbours who use the Parkdale Food Centre to better understand the challenge around food security. Their design ideas were so appreciated by our partners, that they spent the next few months implementing their ideas. More information about this program can be found here.

Past Events

Many thanks to our sponsors and supporters

Chaire pour les Femmes en science et genie
Chair for Women in Science and Engineering

Interested?

UP4 The Challenge TM

UP4 THE CHALLENGE is an initiative supported by Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Ottawa.

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