Top SHAD high school students take upastronaut’s challenge to help Canadians become moreresilient in natural disasters
Waterloo – 1,000 of the top high school students in the country came up with some original ideas to answer a challenge from NASA and Canadian astronaut Drew Feustel. In early July, Feustel announced SHAD’s theme for its 2018 summer program via video message from the International Space Station.
“Canadians need to be ready for extreme events,” Feustel said. “This year’s challenge at SHAD is to come up with some kind of solution to help Canadian communities be more resilient in a natural disaster.”
Throughout the month of July, the students who participated in Canada’s award-winning enrichment and entrepreneurship program heard firsthand accounts from experts involved in extreme events such as floods in New Brunswick and Calgary, hurricanes in Nova Scotia, wildfires in British Columbia among others.
Among the innovations at SHAD’s 16 host university campuses, a team of SHAD students at University of Waterloo created a plan for a squadron of rapid evacuation drones to be used in disaster-prone, densely populated areas. Canadian teens, already technologically savvy would be recruited to host and maintain the RED squadrons, providing a network of interconnected drones which could be used at a moment’s notice.
The RED squadrons would help authorities who often struggle in emergency evacuations to provide clear, accurate information in rapidly changing conditions. The mesh network would be controlled by a human operator at a command centre. During a natural disaster, each squadron would guide evacuees to safety using LED lights and speakers with the drones offering instant information to plan escape routes.
Other innovative ideas include a group from SHAD at University of Saskatchewan devising a roof mounted, solar powered signaling beacon device to help first responders in municipalities in known flood regions. Another group created a Wildfire Evacuation Kit, a heat resistant, reflective evacuation suitcase that guards precious items and includes masks, burn creams and heat protectant blankets. Another group of SHAD students at Carleton University created a Play Dome. The dome like structure for daycares consists of a slide and rock climbing wall on its exterior. It concurrently could function as an emergency shelter as its interior includes cushioned seats, water and food rations as well as medical supplies.
“It’s inspiring to see SHAD youth take up this year’s challenge and come up with new ways to help Canadian communities prepare for extreme events,” says SHAD President and CEO Tim Jackson.
SHAD teamed up with a number of experts who served as mentors and judges, including lead theme sponsor, the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
“With extreme weather events on the rise in Canada, we wanted to work closely with the SHAD students to help Canadians find new innovative ways to be more resilient when faced with a natural disaster,” said President and CEO of the Insurance Bureau of Canada, Don Forgeron.
The theme is one of the unique hands-on experiential learning components of SHAD. Each year, the youth are presented with a complex and topical global issue. They then set out to design and engineer a solution by devising an original product or service.