Waterloo’s Faculty of Engineering helping high school students succeed during the pandemic

The University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Engineering is offering free tutoring to high school students across Ontario to help them succeed with remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Waterloo’s Faculty of Engineering helping high school students succeed during the pandemic

The new program, known as Hive Mind, is aimed at Grade 10, 11 and 12 students who are struggling in advanced functions, calculus, chemistry and physics—all key subjects required to pursue post-secondary engineering programs. 

Leanne Predote, senior manager of Waterloo’s engineering outreach department, said Hive Mind was launched earlier this year to help ensure students interested in pursuing a post-secondary STEM education would not be at a disadvantage because of the coronavirus restrictions to in-person classes. 

“Many are struggling with digital divide issues and additional mental health stress and can’t learn as well in an online environment,” she said. “Hive Mind gives them the one-on-one support they need right now.”

While available to all high-school students, Hive Mind is being run as part of Waterloo’s Women in Engineering (WiE) program, of which Predote is a member. 

“Young women are more commonly the ones who have taken on additional familial duties throughout the pandemic, leaving them with less time to focus on their own studies,” said Predote. 

Students can register through the Hive Mind site for individual or group sessions with one of two Waterloo Engineering undergraduate students employed as learning assistants for their spring semester co-op work terms.

Since February, over 120 have registered for the program and 350 one-on-one sessions have been held.

Predote said response to the program has been “overwhelmingly positive,” with students commenting that the learning assistants were able to answer questions and provide explanations both clearly and concisely.

Many of the over 300 schools contacted about Hive Mind are in rural areas where there are generally fewer extra learning resources offered than in larger cities.

While established to fill a need caused by the pandemic, Predote said Hive Mind could be continued when students return to in-class learning. 

“It’s in alignment with our outreach efforts,” said Predote, a Waterloo Engineering alumnus.  “We’ll evaluate it as we move forward but I think it’s definitely a worthwhile program to continue.”