New youth coding + digital literacy program in Hamilton


April 9, 2018 – Ontario is helping young people between the ages of 12 and 15 learn to code and improve their digital skills, preparing them for jobs in an increasingly digital economy.

Today, the government announced its support for a new program, delivered in partnership with the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship. In Hamilton the program will be delivered by the Boys and Girls Club.

The Digital Literacy + Coding Pilot will provide up to 1,000 youth with valuable new skills in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, equipping them with in-demand skills employers are looking for.

The program was designed by experts in digital literacy, youth engagement, community development and education policy. It will be delivered by a different community partner in five cities across the province, including: Belleville, London, Sudbury, and Toronto.

Increasing digital literacy to grow tomorrow’s highly skilled workforce is part of the government’s plan to support care, create opportunity and make life more affordable during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes free prescription drugs for everyone under 25, and 65 or over, through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, and easier access to affordable child care.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario will invest $1 million over two years in the Digital Literacy + Coding Pilot, matching a private donation by Janice Fukakusa, Greg Belbeck, and family.
  • Ontario has committed to increasing the number of STEM graduates by 25 per cent, from 40,000 to 50,000 per year, and graduating 1,000 applied masters in Artificial Intelligence, both within five years, positioning
  • Ontario as the number-one producer of postsecondary STEM graduates per capita in North America.
  • The Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship is an independent and nonpartisan institute, housed within Ryerson University, dedicated to making Canada the best country in the world to be an innovator or an entrepreneur.
  • Additional pilot partners include: Actua, Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada, the Information and Communications Technology Council, Canada Learning Code, RBC Capital Markets, Shopify, Toronto Public Library, YMCA, and United Way Toronto & York Region.


Eleanor McMahon

“There’s nothing like watching a kid pick up a new piece of tech and just get it. That’s why our government is partnering on a project that takes an important step toward a digitally inclusive province — one that will nurture curiosity, build a love of learning for young people and help prepare them for new job opportunities.”

Eleanor McMahon
President of the Treasury Board and Minister Responsible for Digital Government


Mitzie Hunter

“The Digital Literacy + Coding Pilot will go a long way in helping young people develop the skills they’ll need to succeed in the workforce for years to come. Our government understands that today’s in-demand skills are shifting — it’s why we made a commitment to increase Ontario’s STEM graduates by 25 per cent over the next five years. By supporting this program, we’re making sure Ontario’s workforce stays competitive and adaptable in the new digital economy.”

Mitzie Hunter
Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development


“While Canada’s youth are well-equipped to adapt to the rapidly changing future of work, not all segments of the population will experience these technological trends equally. We’re thrilled to be able to lift our research off the pages and to test a community-based model that has the potential to scale across the country.”
Sean Mullin
Executive Director, The Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship at Ryerson University


Ted McMeekin

“Our Kiwanis Boys+Girls Club is an ideal hub to pilot this innovative digital program. Our local youth stand a much greater chance for academic and career success with the tools that this creative investment provides.”

Ted McMeekin
MPP, Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale


Media Contacts

Lawvin Hadisi
Minister’s Office

Kate Vrancart
Communications Branch


Teen Hack-a-Thon this weekend at Central Library



Hackathon’s are a smash hit with college an university students, so for the national Science Odyssey (http://www.science.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=F90AC2D1-1), McMaster Computing and Software Outreach has been putting on hackathon’s for grades 7 and 8, and will host a bigger hackathon on Saturday at the Central Library.  Even children with no experience of programming can readily figure out how to modify one of our ELM game templates to meet one of the challenges.

While experience is not a bad thing, we are targeting students as they contemplate the transfer to high school and the course choices which can open or close different career paths.

Even if you don’t fit the target grade 7 – 9 age group, you are still welcome to stop by to see the challenges or watch the final presentations at 2pm.


Official Details

Join us for our first ever Hamilton Teen Hack-a-thon. Bring your laptop and your teammate and use your coding skills to tackle a literacy challenge. Team of 2 or 3 are welcome.

McMaster mentors will be on hand to coach and assist. Pizza lunch will be provided. Parents are encouraged to stop in and observe what the students will learn. Everyone welcome at 2:00 p.m. to celebrate all the projects and congratulate the winning team. The 1st place team will win a scholarship for the Leap Summer Camp program.

What is Science Odyssey?

The Teen Hack-a-thon is part of Science Odyssey’s ten days (May 6 – May 14) of discovery and innovation. Hundreds of events will take place all across Canada. Science Odyssey is sponsored by the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council (NSERC) wants to engage with Canada’s scientific community in a new cross-Canada event that celebrates discovery and innovation.

This program is offered with the generous support of the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council (NSERC) by McMaster University, Computing and Software in partnership with the Hamilton Public Library.

If you’re taking on the challenge call Central Library at 905-546-3200 x3434


McMaster Software Outreach looking to visit local schools



McMaster Computing and Software (@MacCASOutreach) is running Software: Tool for Change workshops for local schools in May and June. Workshop lengths range from all-day workshops to 20 minute workshops.

Contact anandc@mcmaster.ca if you would like your school to participate, or would like to arrange a school visit.


Example workshop

Our first workshop was held at Parkway Public School on May 5th with Grade 7 and 8 students in the Enrichment Program! They were introduced to the functional programming language ELM where they created shapes with colours and eventually animations of a heart and beyond. The students also beta tested our teaching apps; Image 2 Bits, which was developed to teach the concept of binary bits using simple user created images, a graph based text adventure game designer, as well as a coconut cracking game, designed to introduce students to the most efficient search strategy.


Image 2 Bits

Our first outreach iPad app, Image 2 Bits, is also available for download: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/image-2-bits/id967807383?ls=1&mt=8

Image 2 Bits teaches binary encoding using black and white images.

Coded images are shared with classmates wirelessly even if you do not have access to a network, and after decoding images, children can like them and then keep them in their picture gallery. Likes appear on the creator’s screen while they are decoding others’ images.

Basic help screens explain how everything in our digital world depends on binary encoding, and interactively demonstrates one method of decoding.

Bonus screens demonstrate addition and multiplication of binary numbers.

If you share iPads in your class, there is a restart button to enable a second child to create and share their own picture.

Troubleshooting: To enable sharing, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi should be turned on, but, for the unlikely case that an iPad will not talk to its peers, there are a few coded images built in.

Privacy: names, titles and images are transmitted to neighbouring iPads and may be intercepted by other network users. Quit the app to erase all stored information.














MacGDA crowdfunding for video game development outreach


McMaster Game Development Association (@MacGDA1) has launched a crowdfunding campaign on FundHamOnt to raise funds to purchase workstations for use in video game development workshops aimed at children from low-income families. Check out the details below and donate to the campaign here:



This initiative is being run by McMaster Game Development Association (MacGDA) in collaboration with Golden Horseshoe Green Tech (GHGT).

McMaster Game Development Association (MacGDA) began in September 2013 in response to the outgoing number of students at McMaster University & Hamilton interested in game project development. We have greatly expanded in our short time frame, hosting various workshops, lectures and have been invited to a Hive Toronto & GHGT pop-up event.


Through this campaign we are currently aiming to purchase 5 workstations (priced $550 each for a total of $2750) to be used for our workshops. The workstations will be used by low-income families at the workshops and will also be openly available for use to further develop game development skills.


MacGDA is a club dedicated to teaching, encouraging and facilitating the growth of game development skills of all people. In order to ensure that all Hamiltonians have access to learning and developing these career related skills, we hope to hold workshops targeted towards low-income families in Hamilton. This campaign is part of fulfilling MacGDA’s goal to fill the gap that currently exists with the lack of resources provided to Low Income Families in Hamilton in learning Game development skills. We hope to reduce and eliminate this digital divide that exists in our community by hosting bi-weekly workshops in East Hamilton, to teach essential game development skills through the use of Unity 3D.


Everything donated will go directly to purchase laptops with the following specifications:
CPU: Intel i5 or AMD equivalent
RAM: 4gb+
SCREEN: 15.6″ +
Simple Mouse for easy navigation

If you would like to donate a laptop or any accessories (mouse, monitor, headphones etc.) please contact us at MacGDA@McMaster.ca.


The Workstations will be provided to participants at our East-Hamilton bi-weekly workshops, in which they will also be able to book time slots to further develop their game development skills.

These laptotps will then be made available & stored at the GHGT office at Rothwell Resource Centre at Robert Land.


New CoderDojo sessions in June



Hammertown CoderDojo (@HammertownCDojo) is the Hamilton branch of CoderDojo. CoderDojos are free, not-for-profit coding clubs for young people ages 7 to 17. At a CoderDojo, young people learn how to code, develop websites, apps, programs, games and more. Dojos are set up, run by and taught at by volunteers.

HammerTown CoderDojo will be running a series of sessions called “Scratch at the Library” in June, check out the details below:


Scratch is a fun, easy-to-use language that you can use to make games and animations. It’s a great way for new coders to learn many techniques of programming as they modify a huge variety of online games or create their own. Scratch is a visual language; instead of typing in syntax, you drag and link together icons that let you build images, move them around in various ways and respond to user input.

Ages: 8–14, Perfect for beginners, please bring a parent or caregiver with you.

Where: Terryberry Branch, 100 Mohawk Rd W.

Time: 2:00-3:00 p.m.,

Dates: June 7th, 14th, and June 21

Registration required – Contact the Terryberry Branch at 905-546-3921 to register.


Details were originally posted here: www.eventbrite.ca/e/coder-dojo-presents-scratch-at-the-library-tickets-11663998333


McMaster Children and Youth University: Video Game Design

McMaster Children and Youth University
The Ron K Fraser Lectures


brockVideo Game Design

Dr. Brock Dubbels

October 26, 2013

Location: McMaster University – Togo Salmon Hall (Room 120)

Video games can be a lot of fun. But, have you ever stopped to wonder how they are made? Dr. Dubbels will examine the different types of video games and explain how they’re developed and what makes them so entertaining.


About the speaker:

Brock Dubbels is currently a post-doctoral researcher at McMaster University. His appointment includes work on game design in the department of Computing and Software (G-Scale) as a CLIR Fellow.


Professional Engineers Ontario EIR outreach initiative

Are you excited about the engineering work you do? Do you enjoy interacting with young people?

Consider volunteering for PEO’s Engineer-in-Residence (EIR) Program. This education outreach initiative matches engineers with schools in their area. The volunteer EIR helps teachers bring a new dimension to the curriculum through hands-on projects, presentations and other activities in and out of the classroom. We are looking for Professional Engineers or Engineering Interns (EITs) with good communication skills and a sense of fun. We provide training, materials and support. Donate as little as eight hours a month throughout the school year and you can help students engineer their future. An orientation session will be held in the fall for matched engineers and teachers. Apply today!

Visit the Engineer-in-Residence website www.eir.ca (@eirprogram) for more information and to apply. Contact Rebecca Melville at rebecca@impactg.com or (416) 481-7070 ex 33 with any questions.


DemoCampHamilton3 Recap: Crow Call

DemoCampHamilton3 took place in front of an estimated 200+ members of the community on Wednesday September 28th at the Twelve Eighty pub right on McMaster University campus. The largest ever attendance for a DemoCampHamilton event was double the previous record, mostly because so many McMaster students showed up for what was probably their first DemoCamp experience. DemoCampHamilton3 had excellent community sponsorship in the form of Innovation Factory, Hamilton Economic Development, McMaster Industry Liaison Office and the Department of Computing and Software.

The event was kicked off with a keynote by the “godfather of DemoCamp” David Crow (@davidcrow) himself. Hamilton’s community is young and still learning, and David shared valuable advice about aiming higher, about the importance of “adding two zeros” to our entrepreneurial expectations. He challenged us to not to make excuses about things being easier in Silicon Valley, but to go there and do it if we thought so. David also talked about the strength of community not being in the number of nodes, but in the number of connections between the nodes. He also left us with a useful list of what to read. Thanks for coming down to Hamilton, David!

Jennifer Cameron (@JenniferVerdant) CEO of Verdant Analysis showed off their financial analysis software – the Cogent financial statement analysis tool and Forecast communication platform for the financial community. Verdant Analysis was actually a top ten finalist at the Lion’s Lair event which took place earlier in the month!

Next up was DemoCampHamilton stalwart supporters FluidMedia who did a demo of SkinnyBoard, web-based software that helps agile project teams collaborate to get work done. Somebody yelled out “I love SkinnyBoard!” before the demo could even begin, so they are doing something very right!

Gavin Schulz (@GsMaverick) and Brian Graham of Open Hamilton (@OpenHamilton) demoed the Dowsing app that helps people find the nearest public water play feature, swimming pool, or beach. Joey Coleman (@JoeyColeman) is the passionate leader of the Hamilton branch of the Open Data movement to have governments release or make open certain kinds of data in formats which afford themselves to the creation of apps like Dowsing. If you’re interested in developing Open Data applications, the group meets regularly on Thursday nights at Hamilton’s local hackerspace ThinkHaus.

Next up was the co-founders of another Lion’s Lair finalist, Brad Ross (@BradARoss) and Mike Saniga (@mikesaniga) of Quant Interpretations. They did a demo of their “QiiQ” consumer intelligence solution – a web-based interpretive solution that helps business owners and managers make better decisions: rich insights about consumers: where they live, how they live, how best to connect with them, and how to find others like them.

Alex and Ruxandra Bucataru then came up to demo their Enthuzr social marketing platform that makes word of mouth marketing easy, more viral, and truly measurable. In addition to giving attendees access to an Enthuzr beta invite, Enthuzr is also a sponsor for the upcoming Startup Weekend Hamilton event happening October 21st-23rd – way to support the community guys!

Finally we had Adrian Duyzer (@adriandz) and Martin Eckart of factor[e] design initiative up to demo HomeFinder, a site for finding new and resale homes that is similar to MLS but designed to be much easier to use. They also did a quick plug for a new web portal of the Hamilton Light Rail initiative.

Some people from ThinkHaus were handing out lazzored acrylic keychains in the shape of 8-bit era Super Mario – did you get yours?! If not ThinkHaus (@ThinkHausOrg) opens their doors on 25 Dundurn ST N every Tuesday at 7pm for an openhaus – why not pop in and check out what other cool stuff they have going on? We also had several other community event announcements. Pat Gaudet of CIPS-GH announced a talk by great Mohawk professor Duane Bender taking place at Mohawk College at 6pm this Wednesday October 5th on the state of electronic medical health records in Canada and what the future holds, reservations (required to attend) and details available here. Stephanie Shuster (@stephshuster) and Tammy Hwang (@tammyhwang) of the Innovation Factory talked about the upcoming Innovation Night taking place on the evening of Wednesday October 12th at the McMaster Innovation Park, details and registration here. One night later on Thursday October 13th starting at 6pm we will be having the first ever Startup Drinks Hamilton in the cool downstairs pub of the Kelsey’s at 875 Main Street West, register here.

Special thanks to Dwayne Ali (@interestica) for making our cool new logo, maybe you want to check out his equally well designed website Secret Hamilton that is all about exposing the “hidden gems” of Hamilton? 😉 Special thanks to Jim “microphone guru” Rudnick (@JVRudnick), Simon “unconference Yoda” Woodside (@sbwoodside), Brian Hogg (@brianhogg), Jessica Pavlin, Tammy Hwang and Stephanie Shuster.

It should also be noted that the sponsors for DemoCampHamilton3 aren’t just sponsors, they’re part of the community too, as evidenced by the Department of Computing and Software’s outreach program, the McMaster Industry Liaison Office’s STEM program, Hamilton Economic Development’s mentoring programs and networking events, and Innovation Factory’s Flight Program.


McMaster CAS Outreach

The McMaster Department of Computing and Software is running an outreach program, the details of which can be found at the recently revamped website: http://outreach.mcmaster.ca. The program provides resources to students, teachers and parents to learn and have fun with Computer Science and Software Engineering. In particular, the outreach program is now able to conduct classroom visits with teachers that request them: http://outreach.mcmaster.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=38&Itemid=56.

Here is one testimonial from a teacher who participated in a classroom visit:

“My students found the outreach program to be very informative and were excited to learn about an area of study that is relevant to their lives. They are looking forward to further exploration of computer science and are eager to take part in any workshops that may be available to them.” – Cherie Lewis, Gr. 7 teacher at W.H Ballard Elementary School