Ontario is introducing a new science and technology curriculum and de-streaming the Grade 9 science course for the upcoming 2022-23 school year.
According to the education ministry, the new elementary science curriculum (Grades 1 to 8: Science and Technology, 2022,) and the planned changes to the new de-streamed Grade 9 science course (eliminating the demarcation of applied and academic courses) will align curriculum changes with the province’s economic needs and place an emphasis on critical life and job skills, including the fast-growing skilled trades.
Ontario’s elementary science and technology curriculum was last updated in 2007 and the Grade 9 course was last updated in 2008. The province says there have been significant changes in science, technology and the economy since then — such as the advancement of smartphones, everyday use of 3D printing and the emergence of genomic vaccines. The updated curriculum responds to these changes with the goal of positioning Ontario as a leading jurisdiction in STEM, helping to prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow.
The new curriculum will be implemented in September in time for the 2022-23 school year, according to a media statement from the Ministry of Education.
“Ontario has transformed the curriculum to now emphasize STEM education across all grades, embedding life and job skills that will support the next generation of scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs,” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce. “From finding new cures for cancer, to space robotics that reach new planets, and the development of artificial intelligence and technologies that are changing the economy, Ontario’s new science and technology curriculum is focused on giving young people the skills to think critically, dream boldly and chart new pathways forward for our economy.”
The education ministry believes the revised curriculum includes required learning on real-world connections between science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
New expectations include:
- Coding: mandatory learning on coding from Grades 1 to 9, consistent with the math curriculum. For example, in Grade 3, students can learn how to program a small robot.
- Connecting STEM Learning: dedicated learning expectations from Grades 1 to 9 connect science, technology, engineering and mathematics to real-world issues.
- Emerging technology: students will learn about the rise and application of advanced research, robotics and the development of artificial intelligence (AI) systems. Students can learn about the impact and application of AI in their daily lives, including facial recognition, autonomous vehicles, drones and search engines.
- Skilled trades: mandatory learning from Grades 4 to 9 on the relationship between how advancements in science and emerging technologies are enhancing the skilled trades and providing exciting career opportunities.
- Food literacy: learning related to food literacy in every grade that empowers students to make decisions that affect physical and mental health, consider local food production, and the scientific processes involved in agriculture.
To support the continuum of learning in mathematics, the ministry is also issuing an addendum for each of the Grade 10 Academic and Applied Mathematics courses, to be implemented for the 2022-23 school year. The addenda outline additional learning expectations to support students in their learning as they transition from the new de-streamed Grade 9 Mathematics course to the current Grade 10 Mathematics courses.
Results from the province-wide consultation in fall of 2018 showed that only 21 per cent of survey respondents believed that Ontario’s schools were doing enough to promote STEM education in elementary school and 65 per cent of telephone townhall participants felt students should be learning more about STEM topics at an earlier age.
To develop the revised elementary science and technology curriculum, the province said it reviewed current research and best practices from leading jurisdictions and incorporated feedback from education stakeholders and partners, including postsecondary institutions and Indigenous partners.