Some high school kids go to camp during the summer. Others work part time jobs. Still others just hang out. But one group of teens is trying to figure out a better way to respond to natural disasters.

The 64 high schoolers from across Canada are taking part in a program called SHAD, which picks top students to take part in activities aimed at teaching them science, technology, engineering, the arts and math while also giving them entrepreneurial and workforce skills.

“These students are getting 90s and everything, but we’re looking for more,” said SHAD’s program director at McGill, Bruce Tracy. “We’re looking for the well-rounded, the leaders in music, in sports, that volunteer at their local community centres.”

This year’s program revolved around figuring out new ways to cope with natural disasters like last year’s floods in Quebec and Saskatchewan. Student Mohammad Al Qadi and his group have come up with one solution to save houses.

“We’re thinking of a pylon system that can lift the house up during the flood,” he said. “That way, the infrastructure will be safe and elevated.”

The ideas are reviewed by a team of science and economics professors.

While one session is being held at McGill, in total 16 Canadian universities take part, with more than 900 participants across the country. The students spend an entire month living on campus.

The program is sponsored by private charities and government funding, with the goal being to encourage bright young minds.