Techsploration, a National Leader Supporting Women in STEM

Digital Nova Scotia member Techsploration is an award-winning, Nova Scotia-based non-profit that delivers hands-on, mentor-led programming to provide young women in Grades 9 through 12 with the information and experiences required to make informed career decisions in science, engineering, and technology (as well as skilled trades) fields. With the ultimate goal of increasing the number of women employed in these sectors, Techsploration’s four-phase program is the starting point of a life-long network of mentors and supportive peers. Beginning in Grade 9, students participate in worksite experiences with female industry role models and a series of interactive workshops to develop technical skills and insight into in-demand careers.

Fun fact: Established in 1998, Techsploration is a joint initiative with the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency and the Nova Scotia Community College. Nearly 60% of their alumnae go on to pursue careers in science, engineering, trades, and technology! Techsploration is considered a national best practice for the attraction of women to these fields.

Embracing Continuous Learning

Techsploration’s success and longevity as a non-profit organization stems from the community of people and organizations who are committed to their mission and mandate, but also their approach to creating a life-long peer-to-peer network. Their programming creates and embraces a continuous learning environment, so young women continue to participate in their program throughout high school and beyond.

Techsploration’s Nova Scotia program is delivered in four phases and this year has taken place virtually:

  • Techsploration Goes to Work (February – April) – a hands-on worksite experience and career exploration event with an assigned role model/mentor;
  • Techsploration Goes to School (March – May) – based on their worksite experience, each school team develops a creative presentation on their respective role model/mentor and presents to their school (to both young women and young men), following the presentation, students participate in a round-robin session with additional industry role models;
  • 3) Techsplorer Events (May) – Techsploration teams and their teachers from across the province gather to share their presentations with participants from other schools. Participants get an in-depth look at multiple STEM and skilled-trades careers and participate in interactive presentations and workshops; and
  • 4) Alumnae Conference (October) – this annual one-day event features a series of technical workshops and a role model round-robin session for young women in grades 10, 11 and 12 who participated in the core Grade 9 programming (the first three phases of the overall program).

Expanding Beyond Atlantic Canada

In 2020, Techsploration launched their first-ever Online Alumnae Mentorship Program with En Point – providing their alumnae 18 years old and up with a structured mentorship program to provide additional support as they navigate post-secondary studies and careers in STEM and skilled trades fields. In addition, Techsploration also hosts two popular online video series, Women in Action and Power in Possibilities – which are shown in classrooms across the globe. Four new videos are scheduled to launch in June of 2021!

They have also recently expanded their operations to Ontario as part of their National Expansion Pilot. For their Ontario students, they have adapted the Techsploration formula to fit current Ontario student needs into a speed-focused format called Techsploration Career Quest. This combines much of Techsploration’s traditional model (including hands-on workshops and pitch presentations), just in a one-day format.

Like most organizations, Techsploration has had to adapt (and re-adapt) as the impact of COVID has continued to evolve. “We’ve been able to transition to an online model and are now also finalizing an augmented reality component to our program, particularly for our worksite experiences.” Says Techsploration’s Interim Executive Director Emily Boucher. “We are looking forward to when we can return to in-person programming, but the silver lining has been that we’ll likely have a hybrid learning model post-COVID.”

In 2021, they are excited to be able to adapt to an online model, when they are used to hosting 50+ in-person events a year, has been a significant undertaking but one that allows them to survive and ensure the continuation of their important mission and mandate. “Being able to work with partners and members of our Techsploration community in a new way is exciting and technology has truly enabled to do just that!” says Boucher.

Making an Impact in STEM

All of the Techsploration staff agree that the best part about working at Techsploration is seeing first-hand the positive influence and impact the program has on the young women who participate in the program. Their team is just as inspired by the excitement and passion their incredible role models have for their careers. Natasha Snow, Techsploration’s Operations Manager, adds that it’s not just the current Techsploration students that are inspirational: “I love seeing Techsploration Alumnae participating years after they had participated in the program…whether that be as a team teacher, role model, or volunteer!”. Meaghan Matheson, who is Techsploration’s Marketing and Communications Specialist and the newest member of the team, is happy to be working for such a great cause. “I would say the best part is being involved with an organization that helps shape the girls’ learning experiences, and potentially their careers.”

There are many ways to support Techsploration; liking and sharing their social media is a great start, as that helps spread the word about their organization. They are always looking for volunteers, whether for their events or their committees. Most importantly though, they’re also looking for any role models for their Techsplorers to look up to.

Any woman who is currently in a science, tech, trades, or engineering type career can apply to become a role model or to be featured in a Feature Story on the Techsploration website. Sponsors and partners are also a vital support system for their organization, and they appreciate all in-kind and financial contributions that support their programming, which ensures no student and no school pays to participate in Techsploration.

Visit Techsploration