Students’ engagement with industry inspires next generation

An Edmonton school’s foundational desire to apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills in a real-world environment has sparked a connection with the Pathways Alliance around sustainable technologies that will help drive the future of energy. 

In May, Grade 5 students from Edmonton Islamic Academy made the trek to Calgary to showcase displays and flawlessly deliver their Edmonton Regional Science Fair award-winning carbon capture and storage presentation to Pathways Alliance staff. 

The school’s projects – which focus on the importance of science and collaboration to drive environmental stewardship – earned gold, silver and bronze medals at the Science Fair. 

“It’s important to give the students a foundation so they can apply their everyday learning in the real world,” said teacher Benjamin Gee, whose home room class has been studying and following the work of the Pathways Alliance companies for several months. 

“My students and I were inspired by the six (Pathways Alliance) organizations coming together to develop a way to reduce emissions in Alberta.” 

The oil sands companies are working together – and with governments – to build one of the world’s largest proposed carbon capture and storage projects to significantly reduce emissions from their operations and developing several other technologies to help Canada meet its climate commitments. 

The science projects teach the students about collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and innovation, problem solving, communication as well as cultural and global citizenship. The students previously met with Alberta’s education minister and the chief of the Cold Lake First Nation and articulately deliver their knowledgeable and informative presentation. 

To build a life-long love of scientific discovery and learning, all students from Grades 4-12 at Edmonton Islamic Academy are encouraged to participate in the Science Fair and the Science Olympics. The school’s motto is Knowledge is Light and it works to nurture respectful, responsible and successful leaders in society as citizenship is as import as academics. 

The mix of science, collaboration and community was a theme in their presentation. The students said they appreciated the opportunity to connect with the people who are dealing with the subjects they study in class. 

“I’ve learned that the oil companies, the Pathways Alliance and everybody is just connected. I think it’s important that they change the quality of life in the community in a good way and how they are trying to reach net zero by 2050,” said Dalia Kamleh, one of the students. “I was inspired by all the female leaders that we got to connect with. My classmates and I are really interested in working in the industry when we get older. I think it’s really cool.” 

Care for the environment is a core value for the six member companies of the Pathways Alliance who are focused on consulting meaningfully on the proposed CCS project with Indigenous leaders and communities, who have a deep connection to the land, air and water. 

The students presented Pathways Alliance with Pillows for Peace cushions they had created in colors meaningful to First Nations to promote reconciliation, and in response to the tragic loss of two Edmonton police officers, who were killed in the line of duty.  

“In Islam wasting natural resources is forbidden. As well in First Nations culture, respecting nature is fundamental because nature provides everything you need such as food, shelter, clothing and medicine,” student Abdul-Aziz Muhammadi told the audience.  

The messages around science, environmental stewardship and community resonated with the audience.  

After taking in the highly informative presentation, Wes Jickling, Vice-President Technology for the Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance urged the students to keep their interest in climate change and energy and continue to make meaningful contributions to society.

“There is a fascinating set of issues and challenges ahead of us in terms of tackling climate change and lowering emissions,” Jickling said. “There’s no shortage of opportunities so I see a huge future in clean energy. I think the future is bright for kids who are this passionate about clean energy.”