NNDSB Students Enter World Of Virtually Limitless Opportunities 


Despite not being old enough to drive, students at Britt Public School had the unique opportunity to operate heavy equipment such as rock trucks, loaders and excavators. A visit from ORIGIN mobile simulators meant students were able to virtually experience what it’s like to be a construction equipment operator.

ORIGIN is an Indigenous-owned and operated company which focused on innovating the process of recruitment and selection while developing localized workforce and partnership strategies. The company has travelled to more than 30 First Nations communities in the North, delivering training services with their mobile heavy equipment simulator classroom.

Britt had 10 students from Grades 6-8 participate in the event where they learned how to drive machines safely, how big machines work, the safety rules when driving machines and about various trades through virtual reality (VR).

Roy Desjardins, Near North District School Board’s (NNDSB) Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) coordinator and dual credit teacher said, “This is the first year we have been able to get the VR simulator trailer and I wanted to make sure one of our more rural schools got the chance. Britt has a small student population, so we were able to ensure most of the senior students had a chance to try out the simulator.”

Britt Public School Vice-Principal Marlene Michaelis said, “It was an opportunity to look closely at skilled trades they may be interested in. The Grade 8 students were able to view a virtual reality experience that showcased several trades through a 360-degree program.”

In addition to the heavy equipment simulations, ORIGIN offers virtual reality experiences in several trades including wildlife biologist, millwright, autobody repair and aircraft engineer to name just a few.

“The Grades 6, 7, and 8 students spent a great deal of the day on the simulators, working an excavator and driving a loader. A few Grade 5 students were invited to try the machines, as well,” Michaelis said. “Many of the students were interested in learning more about the trades that they had been completely unfamiliar with. As our students venture forth into high school, they are more informed as to their options for the future.”

Britt student Myra said, “It was so cool! We learned how to drive big machines safely. They even said they actually train people on those games. There were a lot of different jobs to look through.”

Fellow student Paige said, “The chairs moved. It was so hard. I hit a pipe and the entire chair moved. I started to dig slower after that!”

Student Aiyana also had her eyes opened to the different career possibilities in the trades, stating, “I didn’t know that hairdressing was a trade!”

“Did you know that we don’t have to go to college or university?” student Donny said. “We can start working in an apprenticeship right away. We can get paid to learn.”


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