STEM IA Junior High School

Options Courses

STEM IA junior high option courses are organized into four course strands; specific course offerings will continually evolve. In grade 7, all students take the same four option courses. In these courses, they have the opportunity to sample all three strands while they build important skills and knowledge.  In addition, this year we will be offering optional math support classes to complement our regular math programming.  

At STEM Innovation Academy, students create innovative solutions to unique problems. In our Engineering and Design Strand students will develop the knowledge and skills necessary to apply the design process to a variety of diverse challenges. Using design and fabrication techniques, students create projects that are manufactured using equipment in our Makerspace.

Computational thinking refers to the thought processes involved in understanding a problem and creating digital solutions using industry-standard hardware and software. Students will learn how to create ‘smart’ design solutions. Using hands-on experience in computer programming and electronics, students build systems that take hardware components and algorithms needed to run components.

Innovative ideas are spread by creative, effective and engaging communication. Courses in our Media strand will provide students with the skills to enhance their communication so that it can appeal to all the senses. Students will create and share ideas through a variety of mediums to tantalize their target audience.

These courses will aid students as they develop skills applicable to all areas. Please see below for descriptions of the option courses being offered in the 2024/2025 school year. Some option courses require a small fee to cover special supplies and materials; these fees are set annually by the board according to board policy.

Course Strands
Grade 7
Grade 8 and 9
Design and Engineering
Introduction to Design and Engineering
3D Design and Engineering
Biomedical Design
Computational Thinking
Introduction to Computational Thinking
Creative Computing
Foundations of Video Game Design
New Media
Introduction to New Media
Digital Visual Design
Storytelling Through Media
STEM Communications
PC Remix
Advanced STEM Talks

Design and Engineering

Courses in the Engineering and Design strand focus on utilizing the design process to create innovative solutions to real-world problems. Students learn a variety of hands-on and digital skills and gain valuable prototyping and fabrication experience in our Orchard, HIVE and Makerspace design labs.  Our students have the ability to collaborate with our high school MIT Fab Lab, which connects students to their global peers via a network of 1750 labs in over 100 countries.

Computational Thinking

In today’s digital age, computational thinking is an essential skill.  It is a systematic approach to solving complex problems by breaking them down into a series of distinct steps.  Solutions are presented in a form that can be effectively carried out by people or computers. Courses in the Computational Thinking strand involve students undertaking hands-on learning in computer programming and electronics to create ‘smart’ design solutions.

New Media

Innovative ideas are spread by creative, effective, and engaging communication. Courses in the Media strand leverage digital technologies and the art of communication to connect with authentic audiences using persuasive storytelling.


STEM Innovation Academy Specialization courses allow students to pursue areas of interest related to STEM by providing students with focused and in-depth learning experiences in specific fields of study. 

Intro to Engineering and Design

“Design and Fabrication” is centered around the principles of design thinking and hands-on creation. This class empowers students to tackle real-world challenges by employing the STEMIA Design Thinking Process, and equips them with fundamental tool safety and usage skills to bring their ideas to life through prototypes and finished showcase projects.

An integral part of the curriculum involves teaching basic tool safety and usage. Students will gain proficiency in using a variety of fabrication tools and equipment, such as hand tools, and power tools while emphasizing safety protocols and best practices.

Guided by the design thinking framework, students will embark on projects that challenge them to develop creative solutions. They will ideate, sketch, prototype, and refine their designs, applying their knowledge of materials and tools to create working prototypes.


“Exploring Architecture: Design, Cityscapes, and CAD Modeling” is an engaging course tailored for junior high students eager to dive into the fascinating world of architecture. This immersive class offers a comprehensive exploration of architectural principles, cityscape analysis, CAD (Computer-Aided Design) modeling, and hands-on creation of architectural models.

The course begins by introducing students to the fundamentals of architecture, covering topics such as architectural history, design principles, spatial awareness, and the role of architecture in shaping cities and communities. Students will gain an understanding of architectural elements, such as form, function, scale, and aesthetics.

A key highlight of the course involves a guided tour of Calgary downtown, where students will explore and analyze diverse architectural styles, structures, and urban planning firsthand. This experiential learning opportunity allows them to observe, critique, and draw inspiration from real-world architectural landmarks.
Students will delve into CAD software, such as AutoCAD, to learn the basics of digital architectural design. They’ll develop skills in creating 2D drawings and 3D models, understanding how to translate their design concepts into digital representations using industry-standard software.

The course culminates in a project-based approach where students engage in the architectural design process. They’ll conceptualize, sketch, refine, and develop their architectural designs, applying their knowledge and creativity to create unique models. Using materials like cardboard, wood, or other appropriate mediums, they’ll construct physical models based on their digital designs.

3D Design and Engineering

“3D Design and Engineering: Crafting Solutions through Fusion and AutoCAD” is an immersive course designed to introduce junior high students to the dynamic world of 3D modeling, problem-solving, and fabrication. This hands-on class explores the intricacies of Fusion and AutoCAD software while emphasizing the application of 3D modeling in solving real-world challenges using the design process.

The course begins by acquainting students with the basics of 3D design principles and software interfaces, focusing on Fusion and AutoCAD. Students will learn how to navigate these powerful tools, understanding their functionalities and capabilities in creating detailed 3D models.

Students will engage in practical exercises and guided projects, where they’ll apply their knowledge of 3D modeling to address various issues through the design process. They’ll learn to ideate, sketch, conceptualize, and iterate through designs, focusing on problem-solving strategies while developing their digital prototypes.

Moreover, students will learn about the process of fabrication, understanding how 3D models can be translated into physical objects. They’ll explore basic concepts of fabrication technologies and techniques, potentially incorporating 3D printing or other fabrication methods to bring their digital designs into the physical realm.

Biomedical Design

“BioMedical Design” is an immersive course offering students an in-depth exploration of the dynamic field of biomedical design. Through hands-on activities and theoretical discussions, this course equips students with the knowledge and skills to innovate within the realm of biomedical engineering.

The curriculum introduces students to the role of a biomedical engineer, diving into the discipline’s core principles and responsibilities. They’ll explore the design and creation of prosthetic limb attachments using tools like Tinkercad, 3D scanning, and Fusion, gaining practical experience in prototyping solutions for real-world challenges.

Students will delve into the intersection of drug therapy and nanoscience, understanding how medicines are designed, administered, and optimized for effectiveness. They’ll investigate various methods of medicine delivery in the body and explore the application of nanoscience in biomedical engineering, discovering its potential in enhancing medical treatments.

Intro to Computational Thinking

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of computer science through block-based coding and explores the exciting world of physical computing using sensors and motors to bring their creations to life.

They will dive into the basics of coding using user-friendly block-based programming languages, learning fundamental concepts like sequencing, loops, conditional statements, variables, and functions. Through interactive activities and fun challenges, they will develop problem-solving skills while creating simple programs and games.

In the physical computing arc, students will have the opportunity to apply their coding knowledge to control lights, sounds, movement, or other physical components, allowing them to unleash their imagination in crafting interactive gadgets, simple robots, or innovative contraptions.


This hands-on class integrates various concepts, including computational thinking, fundamental block-based programming, remote operation, collaborative problem-solving, engineering construction, and design thinking.
The curriculum encompasses an exploration of robotics principles and hands-on experience with VEX IQ Robotics kits. Students will delve into the fundamentals of robotics, understanding how to assemble, program, and operate robots using VEX components.
Students will engage in collaborative problem-solving activities, working in teams to design, build, and program robots to accomplish specific tasks and challenges. This collaborative environment fosters teamwork, communication, and critical thinking as students iterate through design cycles to improve their robots’ performance.

Foundations of Video Game Design

This hands-on class offers an introduction to video game design and development using the powerful Unity game engine while diving into the fundamentals of C# programming.

Throughout the course, learn the basics of game design, development, and programming. They will delve into the Unity interface, discovering the tools and features essential for creating immersive gaming experiences.

The curriculum will cover essential concepts in game development, including game design principles, asset creation, game mechanics, user interface design, and scripting using C#. Students will learn how to bring their ideas to life by designing levels, creating characters, implementing game mechanics, and programming interactions within their games.

In this course students will discover how to use the Unity game engine, and will learn C# coding. Unity is a versatile platform used to publish games like Sons of the Forest, Dave the Diver, Hearthstone, and Hollow Knight. The final product of this course is a video game that a student has made solo or in a team of student developers.

Creative Computing

In this course, students will experience a variety of topics and technologies to expand their understanding of computer science. This course offers a comprehensive overview of various topics and technologies within the discipline, allowing students to explore and find their passion areas.

Throughout the program, students will embark on an exciting journey through different facets of computer science, including but not limited to programming, web development, cybersecurity, data analysis, robotics, and artificial intelligence. This broad exposure will give them a taste of the diverse opportunities within the field.

Hands-on activities, interactive projects, and guided explorations will form the core of the curriculum. Students will have the chance to experiment with programming languages, delve into creating websites and apps, explore the basics of cybersecurity, analyze data sets, experiment with robotics, and understand the principles behind artificial intelligence.

Intro to New Media

This class offers a hands-on exploration of various tools and techniques in New Media. Students will learn and work with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, Photography and Videography, and 3D Design and Digital Environments.

They will delve into the essential functionalities of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, learning to manipulate images, enhance photographs, and explore the nuances of digital editing.

In the Photography and Videography segment, students will be introduced to the art of visual storytelling. They’ll learn fundamental principles of composition, lighting, and framing, honing their skills in capturing impactful photographs and creating videos.

The course also introduces students to the world of 3D Design and Digital Environments. They will explore the basics of 3D modeling, texturing, and 3D printing using software tools designed for 3D design.

Hands-on projects will be a key component of the course, allowing students to apply their newly acquired skills. They’ll engage in creative assignments, producing digital artworks, photo manipulations, short videos, and basic 3D models, fostering their creativity and technical abilities.

Digital Visual Design

“Digital Visual Design” is an course where students explore the world of 2D and 3D digital design. Students will journey through the creative process, learning how to conceptualize, bring ideas to life, and thoughtfully evaluate digital designs.

The course curriculum covers fundamental principles of digital design, including design theory, composition, colour theory, and spatial awareness. Students will gain proficiency in industry-standard software for both 2D and 3D design while creating visually stunning and conceptually rich projects.

Hands-on activities will guide students through the process of ideation, sketching, modeling, and rendering in both two and three dimensions. They’ll explore a range of design projects, from creating illustrations and logos to crafting three-dimensional models and environments.


“Digital Animation” will introduce students to the captivating world of animation creation. Through this course, students will explore the foundations of digital animation, learning the techniques and tools used to bring characters and stories to life.

The course will cover essential concepts in animation, including character design, storyboarding, keyframe animation, and digital software manipulation. Students will gain hands-on experience with industry-standard animation software, allowing them to experiment with movement, timing, and visual storytelling.

Throughout the class, students will engage in creative projects, designing their characters, developing storylines, and producing short animated clips. They will learn how to use digital tools to animate characters and objects, understand the principles of motion and express their creativity through the art of animation.

Storytelling Through Media

“Storytelling Through Media” is an engaging and interactive course designed to explore the art of storytelling across various media platforms. Students will delve into the world of storytelling by examining and creating narratives using different forms of media, including writing, photography, videography, and digital storytelling tools.

Throughout the course, students will learn the fundamentals of storytelling, understanding narrative structures, character development, and plot arcs. They’ll discover how to effectively convey emotions, messages, and themes through different media formats, honing their creativity and critical thinking skills.

The class will include hands-on activities, collaborative projects, and opportunities for students to express their ideas through storytelling. They will experiment with different techniques, such as scriptwriting, visual storytelling, and digital editing, to bring their narratives to life.

STEM Communication

“STEM Communication” is a course designed to equip students with the essential skills to effectively convey STEM concepts across diverse mediums. This course focuses on honing students’ abilities to articulate scientific, technological, engineering, and mathematical ideas using various communication methods.

Throughout the program, students will explore the art of effective communication within the STEM fields. They will delve into writing, public speaking, visual representation, and digital media, learning to tailor their messages for different audiences while maintaining accuracy and clarity in their explanations.

The curriculum covers the fundamentals of structuring information, crafting compelling narratives, designing impactful visuals, and utilizing multimedia tools to enhance communication. Students will engage in practical exercises, crafting presentations, creating visual aids, developing written reports, and exploring digital storytelling techniques.

PC Remix

Computer hardware systems and several software concepts will be studied this term; furthermore, you will be tasked with understanding the function and relationship of the CPU, memory, and more. Course material is chosen for relevance to industry trends and demands. During the course of the class, you will learn and practice the dismantling & rebuilding of computer systems, learn about the specific structure and functionality of all computer hardware, troubleshoot PC’s for issues, and finish the course by expanding on your soldering & customization skills by creating a Mechanical Keyboard.

The Capstone Project, therefore, is a custom PLA60 Mechanical Keyboard. To be successful in doing so, you will need to utilize new skills such as: soldering, component assembly, and fine-tuning of switches and stabilizers. After the course concludes, you will leave the course with the PLA60 Mechanical Keyboard that you have created!  Please note there is an associated fee of $165.00 for this course to cover course materials. 

Advanced STEM Talks

Advanced STEM Talks is an immersive junior high course empowering students with powerful communication tools. Through rigorous training in speech, argumentation, and research, students learn to craft compelling arguments and master the art of debate. With a focus on structured reasoning and effective communication, this course fosters confidence in public speaking. Through diverse debate formats and practical sessions, students refine their logical reasoning and learn to construct persuasive arguments. They delve into research techniques, discovering credible sources to bolster their positions. Ethical debate practices and sportsmanship are emphasized, nurturing a respectful and open-minded debating culture. With simulated debates and tournaments, students apply learned skills in competitive yet supportive environments. By course end, students emerge equipped with the prowess to articulate, persuade, and engage critically—skills fundamental for success in debates and beyond.