Wicked Ideas
New Brunswick Premier David Alward speaking at the 2014 State of the Province dinner held in Fredericton January 30, 2014. Photo credit: Michael Hawkins.

Hey! Kid! It’s Time to Get Brilliant.


New Brunswick teachers and students –it’s your turn to crack the code. At the 2014 State of the Province address Premier David Alward announced the Brilliant Labs initiative, an entity funded by both the private sector and government with a mandate to award competitive grants to schools, teachers and their students who pitch cool, engaging projects in coding, robotics and arts.

It is full STEAM ahead for New Brunswick kids – and David Alston deserves a lot of that credit. As the Premier stated in his speech, David first pitched the idea to him at the tech community’s KIRA Awards in May 2013. “He gave us a challenge,” said the Premier. “That every kid in this province should learn to code, and through coding, discover their passion.” STEAM, by the way, stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math and is a world-wide movement to combine arts and sciences to drive creative thinking and new ideas.

David Alston is that guy you don’t say no to, partly because he’s so darn nice you want to help him but also because he is so passionate about the stuff he loves and that’s infectious. I’ll always join that party.

I first met David when he was working at iMagicTV over a decade ago, watched him zoom ahead as the Chief Marketing Officer at Radian6 and for the past nine months I’ve cheered him on as he’s turned teaching kids to code into a province-wide movement.  Back in October 2013, he posted a great piece about the Kids Coding project on Wicked Ideas and last night Michael Hawkins and I met up with him after the State of the Province to get his reaction and to find out what’s next.

Here’s what David had to say:

And on how the education system can integrate the new initiative:


Lisa Hrabluk

Writer. Social Thinker. Founder, Wicked Ideas. Find me hanging out where culture, people and ideas collide. wickedideas.ca


  • Thanks for the coverage of this Lisa and for the part you’ve been playing in the movement. This announcement is definitely a great first step towards the goal of strengthening of our most amazing natural resource – the creative minds of our youth – by empowering and backing our most innovative teachers and administrators. I’ve seen some amazing results already in our classrooms as part of this grassroots movement and I’m encouraged to see what’s possible with this accelerant added.

  • I support it because I am living it. I watch my daughter move seamlessly from pen and paper to iPad, iPhone and desktop and back again, finding inspiration in the videos she watches (none of it appointment TV), the books she reads and the toys she plays with. I listen to her weave these stories and then watch her write them down, some in her notebooks that she has scattered around the house and in the car and sometimes on the computer. I want to encourage that flow, not stall it and so I think she needs to learn how these digital tools work so she can make them work for her. Meanwhile, here I sit, one of those fortunate people who is doing precisely what I dreamed of doing when I was a kid – writing. As I watch the world of journalism struggle to evolve, I struggle along with it, understanding that it isn’t enough to add tech to the equation. Tech is the root and Wicked Ideas will be built up from there. The art of writing and storytelling through human language is more than just a passion for me, it is a compulsion. I simply can’t separate it from who I am and therefore can’t do anything else. Being a writer isn’t a choice; it is a state of being. I can’t conceive of a world that does not enable me and others like me to create, which is why I must be an advocate for tech education – for the artists who, compelled to create, must do so upon a new canvas.

August 2018
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