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‘Clarify my view’

U.K.-based STEM program guides first-year science students

Teaching and Learning

By Kelly Foss

Demonstrations from leading scientists. Visits to world-class laboratories and science universities. International cultural interaction.

This past summer, two Memorial science students participated in a science “camp” they’ll never forget.

Jake Breen and Charlotte Campbell represented Memorial University at the 63rd annual London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF) from July 27–Aug. 10.

Each year, 500 youth aged 16-21, and from 70 countries around the world, are invited to participate in the 15-day STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program.

Exploring disciplines

Ms. Campbell is originally from Alberta. She’s in her second year at Memorial, and in the first year of the pharmacy program.

“It sounded like an amazing opportunity,” she said. “When I read about the program on their website it seemed like a great way to learn and meet people from other places. We got to take part in science visits and lectures from amazing people in the field, but we also had the opportunity to explore London, do tourist things, and make new friends.”

Ms. Campbell’s favourite experience was a visit to the King’s College London Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, where the students got to see the facility’s research up close and used labs and equipment for their own experiments.

“The pharmacy lectures were some of my favourites and helped me confirm I am on the right path.” — Charlotte Campbell 

Her goal in attending the forum was to learn about and explore different scientific disciplines.

“I feel a lot more confident about my decision to choose pharmacy. The pharmacy lectures were some of my favourites and helped me confirm I am on the right path and doing something I will enjoy.”

Two students in front of Tower Bridge.
From left, students Charlotte Campbell and Jake Breen in front of London’s Tower Bridge.
Photo: Submitted

Clarifying the future

Mr. Breen is also a second-year student. Originally from Nova Scotia, he is majoring in math and chemistry.

“When I applied for the forum, I was still considering my major and was thinking about chemistry, but I wasn’t sure,” he said. “I thought this experience might help direct my path. One of my favourite lectures was the Institute of Crime Science, as I am very interested in forensic science. LIYSF helped me clarify my view and cemented the idea that I preferred chemistry and math over the medical sciences.”

While the program’s options were extensive, Mr. Breen says he also enjoyed the downtime between the sessions.

“We had a lot of free time to explore, which was great,” he said. “We got to see some really cool spots and were right next to Hyde Park, so we were there all the time, but we also visited places like Stonehenge and the Tower of London.”

Making connections

The pair encourages other students to consider the LIYSF experience, or look for similar opportunities available to learners at Memorial.

“I’d recommend all students apply,” said Mr. Breen. “And if you go, try different types of science that you’re not used to, because perhaps you’ll find something you didn’t know you liked.”

“It’s important to really put yourself out there,” adds Ms. Campbell. “In situations with people you don’t know, make connections and absorb as much as you can.”

A large number of students seated in front a domed building.
A group photo of all the forum participants.
Photo: Submitted

Science for all humankind

Established in 1959, LIYSF provides students with a deeper insight into science and how it can be applied for the benefit of all humankind.

For more than 20 years, the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, has selected students from Memorial’s first-year science program to participate in the program.

Students are chosen based on overall academic excellence in science and math courses taken while at Memorial, an interest and aptitude for science, as well as communication, leadership and interpersonal skills. Equity, diversity and inclusion are also considered when selecting the award recipients.

“The late Dr. [Hugh] Anderson was a professor in the Department of Chemistry and a generous benefactor to numerous events and awards.” — Dr. Chris Kozak

Although the chemistry department has led the initiative for many years, students can be selected from any major in the Faculty of Science.

“The cost of registration and travel to London from St. John’s is provided by the department, primarily through its Hugh Anderson Endowment fund, which covers the cost of one student attending per year,” said Dr. Chris Kozak, Memorial’s LIYSF program co-ordinator. “The late Dr. Anderson was a professor in the Department of Chemistry and a generous benefactor to numerous events and awards.

“This year, two students were able to participate due to additional generous support of $3,500 from the Faculty of Science,” he added. “The cost per student is $5,300 including registration and travel. Where we did not send students to LIYSF in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19, we were able to send two this year, thanks to Faculty of Science support and the Department of Chemistry.”

Applications for the 64th annual LIYSF will be accepted in April 2023. Applications and additional information will be available here.

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