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Hands-on learning

Federal investment enhances Memorial's community programming

By Moira Baird and Jeff Green

Inspiring youth to explore science-based careers and expanding oceans-related programming to rural parts of the province are among four Memorial projects receiving new federal funding.

Memorial has received a total of $206,950 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) PromoScience Program.

Kirsty Duncan, minister of science and sport, announced $11.9 million in federal funding for 163 grants on Sept. 17 in support of hands-on learning experiences for young Canadians and teachers. The funding will also be used to bring science and engineering skills development to young women, Indigenous youth and other underrepresented young people across the country.

Children programming Ozobots during the Science Literacy Week kickoff on Sept. 16.
Photo: Submitted

The investment supports four Memorial groups engaging youth and the public in the areas of science and engineering.

  • The Labrador Institute received a total of $93,000 for a project titled Labrador Lands and Waters Science Camp;
  • Memorial Engineering Outreach, a unit based in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, received a total of $75,000;
  • The Marine Institute (MI) received $30,000 for its MI Ocean Net – Youth and the Oceans Conferences program; and
  • A project titled Taking the excitement of chemistry to some eastern Aboriginal communities, which is based at Grenfell Campus, received a total of $8,950.

“For nearly four decades, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada has been one of Memorial’s most important and supportive partners,” said Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research) of Memorial University.

“Through its investments, Memorial is attracting and retaining the best talent to Newfoundland and Labrador, while providing cutting-edge educational programs to youth. I congratulate the four recipients of the PromoScience program.”

The Labrador Lands and Waters Science Camp provides hands-on science training and experiences to Indigenous youth.
Photo: Submitted

Labrador Institute

The Labrador Lands and Waters Science Camp is a week-long annual science summer camp, located in Labrador, aimed at inspiring Innu and Inuit youth (Grades 9-11) to explore future science pathways and decreasing barriers to science learning experienced in remote/Northern locations.

This science camp, developed in partnership with the Labrador Institute of Memorial University, the Nunatsiavut Government, the NunatuKavut Community Council, the Innu Nation, and the Torngat Wildlife, Plants and Fisheries Secretariat, will continue to offer a hands-on science training experience through interdisciplinary programming centred on Labrador-based research in plant ecology, geology and mining, soil science, geospatial science and technology, marine ecology, wildlife, and traditional ecological knowledge. PromoScience funding is providing science materials, supplies and travel for Elders, facilitating the accessibility of the camp.

Engineering outreach

Memorial Engineering Outreach offers youth in the province exciting and engaging programming in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The unit is expanding its outreach efforts, increasing growth and diversity within its programs.

The NSERC PromoScience funding will allow the unit to build upon its low-cost programming for hundreds of underserved youth in grades Kindergarten to 12. School workshops, as well as on-campus clubs and community workshops for females and youth from low socioeconomic backgrounds, will help the unit bring STEM to where youth are and have positive influences on their ability to see themselves in these fields.

Students at King Academy in Harbour Breton participated in MI’s Youth and Oceans Conference.
Photo: Submitted

Marine Institute

MI’s Youth and the Oceans Conference Series is a series of annual conferences held in communities across the province aimed at engaging and educating high school youth in areas of science and technology.

Using a pan-institutional approach, MI’s faculty and staff have designed innovative programming that engages and motivates participants with a hands-on learning experience focused on connecting the oceans with technology and sustainability that instils in youth the value of believing in their potential to make a difference.

Since its inception in 2014, the program has reached more than 3,500 youth. Organizers plan to expand the program’s outreach to target underrepresented populations in rural communities across the province that may not otherwise be exposed to science and engineering opportunities.

Students at Jens Haven Memorial School, Nain, get hands-on experience with water-absorbing polymers.
Photo: Submitted

Grenfell Campus

The central plan of the Grenfell Campus Chemistry Outreach Program is to visit select Aboriginal schools in northern Labrador and central Newfoundland. The team consists of Dr. Geoff Rayner-Canham, organizer; Chaim Andersen, Inuit presenter; and Yu-Ru Lee, demonstrator.

The goal of the program is to excite Inuit, Innu and Mi’kmaq students about chemistry and for them to consider taking chemistry towards a science-based career, and to produce informed citizens. About 650 students will be involved, of which 60-70 per cent will be female.

In addition, Ms. Andersen and Dr. Rayner-Canham will develop a resource on chemistry and Inuit life and culture, which science teachers in Labrador can use as a teaching tool. Ms. Andersen promoted the program and resource at a chemistry conference in Edmonton, Alta., this summer. The NSERC PromoScience funding provided travel and accommodation to participant communities and to the conference, and will be used to assist with the publication of the resource.

NSERC’s PromoScience program offers financial support for non-profit organizations working with young Canadians to promote an understanding of science and engineering, including mathematics and technology.

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