Branches welcomes 100 high school students to Explore McGill

The Explore McGill initiative invites high school and CEGEP students from around Quebec to spend a day exploring the McGill campus, meeting new people, and attending specialized workshops and presentations.

On October 28, Explore McGill welcomed over 100 high school students from across Quebec. The day is an initiative of Branches, Enrolment Services’ community outreach program, which works with communities and partners to create sustainable programming that encourages young students to persevere and become lifelong learners. By placing youth within the University environment, Explore McGill creates an opportunity for the student to envision themselves at university, navigating the campus, attending lectures, and enjoying meals with their peers. Explore McGill is one of many Branches’ programs designed to motivate and empower youth to pursue postsecondary education by reducing barriers and increasing access to higher education.

A group of students entering the McGill campus on foot
Explore McGill participants heading across campus

Branches collaborated with workshop facilitators and partners to design activities to appeal to high school students with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Students’ responses reflected these efforts; a student from Alexander Gault High School reflected that the “program is extremely well organized, and this was a great experience.” Other students expressed interest in attending even longer workshops in the future as they did not want the workshop to end.

Upon arrival, students received a personalized schedule of the day’s events, reflecting their program choice and area of interest. Over breakfast in the SSMU ballroom, they got comfortable in the new environment and went over the day’s agenda. Explore McGill includes two workshops of the students’ choosing before breaking for lunch. The day wraps up with a campus tour led by student volunteers.

Thanks to their partners, Branches offered a wide range of workshops, creating a cohesive overview of McGill’s faculties. Students took part in hands-on experiments run by BrainReach (a community outreach program run by graduate students in the Integrated Program in Neuroscience) and the Department of Chemistry’s Chemistry Outreach group. BrainReach offered an interactive presentation that invited students to stage their own neuroscience experiment focusing on how the brain influences behaviour. Chemistry Outreach led a green chemistry lab where students extracted essential oils from an orange peel. This hands-on experiment captured student attention as a lab assistant demonstrated the precision needed within the lab environment before students replicated the experiment themselves. The Chemistry workshop ends with dry ice and ice cream, making it a perennial student favourite.

The Faculty of Law’s L.E.X. (Law-Éducation-Connexion) Outreach Program and the School of Social Work laid out academic pathways to their respective disciplines. McGill Law students gave an overview of the Canadian legal system, including important offices and career paths. Students researched legal professions and the legal implications of the recent Ottawa riots. The workshop included a knowledge game and ended with a question-and-answer session. The School of Social Work gave students an overview of the myths and realities of the field, with an interactive look into case vignettes using audio and visual aids.

Students toured the facilities of the Peter Guo-hua Fu School of Architecture and the Ingram School of Nursing. Students took an interactive tour of Architecture studio space and participated in a discussion session with architecture students for a first-hand account of studying architecture at McGill. The students showed great interest in the field of nursing, and approached presenters from the School with personalized questions.

A group of students working in a chemistry lab
High school students engaging in a hands-on experiment run by Chemistry Outreach

The Desautels Faculty of Management held workshops on ethics in business and entrepreneurship that included lively rounds of Kahoot and breakout sessions where students brainstormed solutions to fast fashion’s effect on our environment. Students worked in teams to weigh the ethical impact of decision-making in business and collaborate in problem-solving. The two workshops gave insight into the complexities of pursuing a career in management.

Explore McGill offered two student panels, one focusing on Management studies and the other on the realities of student life at McGill. Both panels received enthusiastic attention as students were eager to hear about the McGill student experience from a diverse set of panelists.

When it came time to tour the campus, Explore McGill volunteers designed personalized routes that led students to well-loved campus landmarks. Touring Lower Field, walking along Avenue des Pins, and crossing through the Milton Gates, students got a holistic view of the campus and the paths that McGill students tread daily to attend lectures, visit the library, and spend time with friends and peers.

The team at Branches is already planning for the next Explore in April 2023. Learn more about the program and how to get involved by visiting the Branches website.