Let’s Talk Science relies on more than 3,500 volunteers across Canada to create a memorable impression on students and educators engaging with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. These volunteers range from post-secondary students, industry professionals, Let’s Talk Science board members, to our very own staff. Let’s Talk Science volunteers infuse new ideas into our suite of programs and provide students across the country insight into current post-secondary research. Our volunteers also offer students mentorship opportunities that create real time connections to STEM industry.
One of the ways that we celebrate this dedication to STEM education is through our annual national Let’s Talk Science Volunteer Awards.
This year, Let’s Talk Science will be presenting a new award to showcase the outstanding contributions of our CurioCity virtual volunteers.
As our national volunteer week celebrations draw to an end, we would like to announce this year’s award finalists and nominees for the 2016 Let’s Talk Science volunteer awards:
This award recognizes volunteers who have shown exceptional commitment to online volunteering and who have made outstanding contributions to CurioCity through their volunteer activities.
In her articles, Anna tackles complex issues in biology and technology. She writes about difficult topics, such as immune cells or the impacts of mobile device use, in ways that are interesting and accessible to teen readers. Anna has also supported CurioCity by reviewing older content to help ensure it remains accurate and meets current standards.
Kelly writes very interesting articles that usually focus on chemistry. She has a proven ability to highlight how STEM is key to understanding the real world in a way that resonates with a teen audience. The article ‘Puppy Love’ provides a well-written explanation of how experiments are used to infer conclusions in science.
Through her articles, Melissa expresses a clear passion for science. She shows teen readers the “cool” side of the topics she discusses while serving as a role model for those interested in pursuing postsecondary studies in a STEM field. Beyond sharing her own enthusiasm and choosing topics that will interest teen readers, she presents complex concepts in a clear and understandable way.
This award recognizes volunteers that have shown outstanding innovation, communication skills and a commitment to science outreach and education.
“One of the most important things in generating tomorrow’s science leaders is to foster curiosity and critical thinking” - Connie Leung
Through her time volunteering, Connie has shown an ability to innovate through creating new programs and supporting ongoing work. Connie took the lead in organizing Let’s Talk Science at UBC’s first high school symposium on antibiotics. This event brought over 100 students to campus for a day long immersive experience. For the upcoming symposium, Connie worked to raise funds to improve upon the event.
“I learned that it is more important to ensure that students enjoy the activity they are learning, to allow questions to be asked, and to see where conversations can go.” – Katherine Reilly
Katherine has brought her commitment to science education to a variety of Let’s Talk Science outreach activities. From organizing the annual StemCellTalks symposium to preparing kits for health-science activities to mentoring First Nations students, Katherine brings her attitude of learning together to all her volunteering.
“I am constantly thinking of ways that research can be explained to the public to promote the importance of science in their everyday lives.” – Portia Kalun
Portia has worked to bring all facets of science to life for children and youth. Working with the monthly McMaster Children and Youth University (MCYU) program, Portia works with each lecturer to create connected workshops to support the presentations. She has also taken part in the Dandelion Project and working with girls in science.
“During my tenure as a Let’s Talk Science volunteer it has been a goal of mine to engage students as much as possible in the activities and get them excited about science.” – Regina Sinelnikov
Regina has taken her experiences to help create engaging workshops with students. Learning from each visit, she has created a variety of tactics to best engage the students. She has also worked to create original chemistry activities including states of matter with dry ice and building a ‘chemical garden’ to demonstrate crystal growth and chemical change.
“My reason for joining Let’s Talk Science was to encourage students to be interested in science and share my excitement and love of science with children and youth.” – Shira Schwartz
Working with both large scale events and in-class outreach, Shira has contributed to the program in a variety of ways. Shira is able to assess bigger events and look at ways to improve the experience for everyone involved. She initiated a well-received partnership with the local Boy and Girls Club this year to expand their local outreach.
This award recognizes an Outreach site coordinator who has demonstrated exceptional leadership to influence others to create positive change through STEM outreach.
“My personal mission is to increase scientific literacy in rural and under-accessed communities and to provide opportunities for the children in these communities to interact with positive STEM role models.” – Alexandra Swirski
During her time coordinating the Let’s Talk Science Outreach program at the University of Guelph, Alexandra has created lasting partnerships and worked to develop the skills of her volunteers. When making decisions for her local site she works to ensure that all stakeholders are considered and that a positive impact is being demonstrated.
“It was through numerous academic, personal and professional experiences that led to this realization that STEM engagement leads to student development of a scientific mindset which involves critical thinking, inquiry and creativity skills which ultimately empower an individual.” – Emily Ng
Within Let’s Talk Science at the University of Calgary, Emily stands out. Through her leadership role Emily is inspiring her fellow coordinating team to work hard. Emily helped to build up the local site by moving out of her comfort zone to build strong support for the program with funders and the on-campus community. Under her leadership, the program is building with a strong grassroots flavour.
“Through building relationships with different stakeholders, I strive to create a caring environment that embraces STEM education and its importance in everyday life.” – William Chan
William’s focus as a coordinator has centred on building meaningful relationships to ensure a sustainable program at the University of Alberta. Using a personal approach, he works to encourage volunteers. Along with this, he also works to mentor incoming local site coordinators. A special outreach interest of William’s has been with nearby First Nations communities.