A new school in downtown Squamish provides after-school science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) education, English as a second language (ESL) courses and French courses for students from kindergarten to grade 12.
Officially opened since July, Dr. Panda Academy encourages enthusiasm in STEM by offering age-appropriate robotics courses to students of all grades. Students learn basic coding by writing the programming for the robots and, as they get older, work on the mechanics of building.
Dr. Panda offers high-quality instruction from teachers with advanced degrees in their subject areas.
Not only does working with robots provide hands-on STEM experience, it also teaches students real-life lessons, says Carol Huang, owner of Dr. Panda.
“Sometimes, the kids feel frustrated because they think they did the coding correctly, but then the robot doesn’t perform according to the program. So they have to go back and figure out what went wrong,” she says.
“In the real world, we have problems. We think we’ve done something well, but there is an unexpected problem. We have to figure it out and manage our frustrations. I almost think they learn more when the robot fails because, in the process of getting it right, they really have to understand their work.”
Dr. Panda’s robotics programs are also a great opportunity for students to learn in a small setting. Due to COVID-19, all classes are currently being capped at four students.
In addition to robotics courses, Dr. Panda also specializes in online English courses for ESL students.
“My teachers are very high quality. Some of them can speak Mandarin really well. They have a very rich experience and are very capable. Not only do they provide help, they also provide our students with emotional support,” Huang says.
Huang works closely with the school board’s international department to provide timely support for international learners who require assistance. Previously students in Squamish who wanted to do IELTS courses would have to travel to Vancouver. Now, they’re able to stay locally and learn online through Dr. Panda.
“Squamish is growing and I wanted to provide something unique to support the students here,” Huang says.
To learn more about Dr. Panda Academy’s programs, visit its website at: www.drpanda-academy.com.