What the CST Inspired Minds Learning Project Means to My Students and Me

FB Joe Update

By: Joe Grabowski


My name is Joe Grabowski.  I am a grade 8 Science and Math teacher with the Wellington Catholic District School Board. 

As the next round of the CST Inspired Minds Learning Project begins, I’d like to share a little about how this amazing opportunity has influenced my teaching, students and entire school board.

As the first three-peat winner of this competition, I’ve had a front row seat for the impact this funding can have.

It’s important to me that I incorporate technology into my classroom and use it to open it up to the world and share my passion for science and nature with my students. The CST Learning Project has allowed me to pursue these goals in a very big way.

Learning Project 2016 - Update Joe Class and Screen

Students using technology to virtually connect with guest speakers.

 These grants have allowed me to acquire one-to-one technology in my classroom with a class set of Chromebooks and a handful of iPads; a luxury few classrooms can say they have. My students can research and complete tasks throughout the day, freeing us from adhering to schedules and competing for time in computer labs.

Classroom Technology 2

A snapshot of some of our new classroom technology!

These grants have helped to found and fund a yearly guest speaker tour called Questions|Explore|Conserve. Each year I bring scientists and explorers from around the world to our school board, to present in our schools. Well over 5,000 students benefit from these experiences.

This year will mark the third year an adventurer from the UK named James Ketchell will be our speaker. After a serious motorcycle accident, he was told to expect a fairly sedentary lifestyle. He responded by rowing solo across the Atlantic, climbing Everest and cycling 18,000 miles around the world. He’s sure to be a massive inspiration to our students, speaking about overcoming obstacles and reaching goals.

Each year my classroom connects virtually with scientists, explorers and conservationists from around the world. Joining an expedition on an active volcano in Italy, hanging out in an Adelie penguin colony in Antarctica and chatting with aquanauts on the bottom of the ocean barely scratches the surface of these connections.

My classrooms have been able to use a small portion of the funds received to do some social good by supporting some of the conservation groups we’ve connected with, so they can continue protecting our planet and educating students.

One project in particular we were very proud to contribute to, is the future construction of a new nature centre at the Guelph Lake. For decades, hundreds of thousands of students have made yearly treks to the Guelph Lake to supplement our science curriculum. It feels great to give back to an organization that has had such a large impact on countless students in our community.

Update Joe Class and Visitor (dark)

Guest speakers are also brought in to speak with students face-to-face.

Finally, the CST Inspired Minds Learning Project has helped me to pursue one of my goals as an educator. In September, I founded Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants, a nonprofit organization to bring science, adventure and conservation into classrooms across North America through guest speakers and virtual field trips. Since launching, I’ve run over 80 Google Hangouts with leading experts from around the world and reached thousands of students across North America.

I hope it’s plain to see the impact that the CST Inspired Minds Learning Project can have. My story isn’t unique, each year new stories are being written across the country thanks to the Canadian Scholarship Trust Foundation. These funds give organizations an opportunity to make a difference within their communities by removing financial barriers, rewarding innovative programs and making a real difference.

I’m thrilled that this opportunity exists and can’t wait to create and launch my next project and to see what other individuals and organizations are doing to inspire and innovate across Canada.