In November of 2020, when Science Co-op students were informed that the Work Experience course that would take place in December was to be cancelled due to COVID-19, Co-op students were saddened by the news, but also hopeful in anticipating the new course plan that would take the place of the old. 

Melissa Jackson, Riverside’s Science Co-op teacher was initially in denial because she was certain she would be able to place students via work-arounds for students, but as COVID-19 cases progressed, new protocols emerged, and the original program had to be cancelled. In light of this, Jackson had to pivot and come up with a new plan. “I wanted students to get something valuable out of the course rather than a final product, so I came up with a project where students could explore their passion,” said Jackson. She wanted to create a project to fulfill student’s explorations and ambitions they had with the work placements.  

A new IDS course was to take the place of the Work Experience course where students would come up with their own project and presentation that revealed a passion they had in the science area. Grade 11 Riverside student Veniça Davignon was exploring her future career choices and decided she was interested in speech-language pathology. Initially, Davignon was devastated, like most students were, to hear the news of the program’s cancellation. “I was very upset, I really wanted the opportunity of a work placement to see if I would enjoy being an SLP, but I think I still got a very good insight while interviewing many different SLP’s in the district, in offices and in hospitals,” said Davignon.

One student’s workspace while experimenting with their project.

Although many students felt the same way as Venica did, some also thought the exploration project was much more beneficial to their learning rather than the work placement they had intended to do. An example of a project a student did was the growth of bacteria and learning about different lab techniques. She was very passionate for something in the medical field but knew it would be difficult to find a placement, so with this new project in place, she could really explore her passion and be completely independent throughout the process.

The outcome of student’s projects was just a glimpse of the rich learning and discovering that happened throughout the course. “If I ever had to do an IDS course again, I wouldn’t be disappointed,” Jackson said in conclusion to her thoughts on her first time teaching the course. 

As with everything during COVID-19, there were many changes, but some of those changes turned out to be positive, such as the new IDS course for Work Experience.