Our Stories: Bringing science home to Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory

At Let’s Talk Science, our volunteers are passionate about the fields they work in as science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) researchers, students or professionals. Many even remember their own interest in STEM from when they were younger.

Marcy MaracleMarcy Maracle is a McGill University student pursuing a Bachelor of Science majoring in Ecological Determinants of Health with a minor in Psychology. She first got involved with Let’s Talk Science three years ago. “I was searching for ways that I could share my knowledge and time to help kids learn about science. Let’s Talk Science fit these goals perfectly and I started volunteering with Let’s Talk Science Outreach at McGill University immediately.”

Raised on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, a rural First Nations community in southern Ontario, Marcy recalls having always had a desire to give back to her community. “I’ve always wanted to help others growing up like me - other kids from small towns, who didn’t know any scientists or doctors, and who didn’t have access to the types of resources found in larger, more urban communities.” She continued, “Through my volunteer work with Let’s Talk Science, I hope I can make the 10-year-old me proud and help many more kids realize that science is always an exciting, accessible option.”

As a Let’s Talk Science Outreach Coordinator, Marcy particularly enjoys having the opportunity to travel to rural areas to bring science activities to kids. “These trips also introduce diverse locations and cultures to our volunteers,” she explained. “Both the students and the volunteers have the opportunity to learn a lot and have fun too!”

Marcy had often envisioned organizing an Outreach visit to her home on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. This became a reality in Spring 2014, when volunteers from Let’s Talk Science Outreach at McGill University and Concordia University partnered with Outreach volunteers at Queen’s University to organize a special visit to Quinte Mohawk School in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.

“I was excited to bring Let’s Talk Science Outreach volunteers to my community and visit my elementary school,” Marcy recounted. “I knew that our presence would be appreciated, but mostly I hoped that it would inspire students to think more about science and education.”

Over the two day visit, nine Let’s Talk Science Outreach volunteers met with almost 300 Kindergarten to Grade 8 students from Quinte Mohawk School. “We talked to the students about science, about how each volunteer was connected to the scientific community in different ways and about ways that science is relevant in their lives.”

From creating exploding rockets fuelled by water and making sticky polymers to visualizing the effects of global warming and brainstorming ways to use resources efficiently, Marcy and her fellow volunteers engaged the students in nearly 20 hands-on/minds-on science activities.

“Our activities were well received with excitement and enthusiasm by all grade levels,” she noted. “It was a fantastic experience for everyone involved – the school, the students and the volunteers. For me, personally, it was a defining moment to see a project and trip I had wanted to plan for many years finally happen.”

“It was a lot of work to execute, but to see the capable Let’s Talk Science volunteers sharing their knowledge and time with my community was truly heartwarming. I hope we have forged a solid partnership with Quinte Mohawk School and I’m happy to hear that Let’s Talk Science Outreach at Queen’s University plans to visit again.”

Marcy added, “I’m sure that the 10-year-old me would be proud!”

Year after year, Let’s Talk Science Outreach volunteers are giving back in hundreds of communities like this one in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.