The members of the winning team from SHAD Waterloo, from left, Sana Samadi, of Alberta; Jared Hann, of Corner Brook; Andrea Chakma, of Ontario; Judy Fan, of B.C.; Kayley Ting, of Ontario; and Helen Zheng of Ontario.
Sixteen-year-old Jared Hann of Corner Brook was among four students from this province who participated in a unique learning experience at the University of Waterloo this past July.
Hann not only took part in the Ontario university’s SHAD program, he was also on the winning team for the group project and will be going on to represent the university at SHAD’s national competition in Toronto in October.
There are SHAD programs at many major universities across the country.
More than 50 students participated in the month-long, in-residence program at the University of Waterloo. Focused on science, technology, engineering and math, SHAD challenges students to develop an original product or service to help solve a serious economic or social problem.
This year, students from 12 host university campuses were tasked with finding solutions to improve food security for Canadians.
Hann and the other five members of the team called their project Green Garden.
“We wanted to look at the problem as a largely financial issue and we wanted to solve it without providing direct financial aid,” Hann said by phone recently.
Hann draws on a popular phrase — “If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day; if you teach him how to fish, he eats for a lifetime” — as a means of explaining why his group took this approach to the problem.
The students proposed a type of co-op type organization for a community garden to help low-income families in urban areas.
“We tried to blend the two and we looked into innovative ways of growing food,” said Hann. “We looked at modifying buildings in the area and we looked at constructing our own buildings that could support a little market for selling food at lower prices and we looked at ways of growing the food inside the building.”
The team developed several prototypes for its project and will be working on a new prototype to take to the nationals.
Hann said he was pleased with the project and the fact that it’s designed to help the working poor.
“There are a lot of people who are working, but are food insecure because of their low wages,” he said. “A lot … don’t have time to grow their own food to help support themselves. So that’s the group we wanted to try to help.”
Rob Gorbet is program director of SHAD at Waterloo University.
The students came up with many different approaches to the food security problem, Gorbet said. The ideas included everything from finding innovative ways to get food to northern communities during the winter to using food that would normally be wasted.
Other solutions, such as the one Hann’s team put forward, include attaching greenhouses to farmers’ markets to help low-income families.
“What we liked particularly about the Green Garden project is they had a model that was not just going to put a greenhouse in an urban area and attach it to a farmers’ market, but they also had a model of community involvement in teaching kids about growing food and getting the community involved in producing and selling the food …” said Gorbet
He encourages high school students from all areas of the country to apply to attend a SHAD program. One of the values of the program is giving students that live in different environments an opportunity to learn and work together.
“We have kids from a one-room schoolhouse in P.E.I. in with kids who live at Jane and Finch in Toronto and have 3,000 students in their high school,” he said. “I want parents to think about SHAD as a valuable program that their kids can benefit from. And we really benefit from having students from out east.”
Hann is starting Grade 11 at Corner Brook Regional High in September. He agrees that SHAD is a great opportunity for high school students.
“We met all these amazing people, we talked about different ideas and had the opportunity to try different things,” he said. “We were exposed to so many different fields. It was one of the best months of my life.”
Other students from this province who attended SHAD Waterloo were Hannah Rowe of Glovertown, Sam Bauer of St. John’s and Brady Ryan of Marysvale.
For more information about SHAD visit: www.shad.ca