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Larissa Puls

Staff Scientist, Education and Northern Programs
Science North
Larissa Puls | Scientifique vulgarisatrice
Larissa Puls | Scientifique vulgarisatrice
Location Born
Location Now
Education Pathway
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Larissa Puls is a Staff Scientist of Education and Northern Programs for Science North.

About me

I was born/grew up in: Born in Winnipeg, MB. Grew up in Pinawa, MB - small town full of engineers and scientists working for AECL

I now live in: I live in Sudbury, ON.

I completed my training/education at: I did a biology degree and a forestry degree at UBC in Vancouver. I did a teaching degree at OISE in Toronto.

What I do at work

I spend a lot of time developing great workshops to help teachers in their classrooms. I want teachers to be comfortable doing inquiry-based learning with their students. I often need to know about different strands of science and find activities we can do to help student learn about all the different topics that are in the Ontario Science and Technology Curriculum. 

Because we do a lot of video conferencing, we often need to trouble shoot the technology involved, and figure out how to help teachers that have different tech from us at the science centre. I am always looking for fun ways to engage students in science and technology. I often try things out, and have to go back to the drawing board to find a better way to teach a concept, or a different activity that will be fun, but will also help students learn. I am part of a team. I have colleagues with whom I collaborate to develop and deliver our programs. I also have employees that help deliver our school programs and eworkshops. Sometimes it is difficult to manage people when you have high expectations, but as a teacher, I am always willing to train my employees and help them develop their presentation skills. 

We use both French and English at our centre, and offer all of our programs in both languages. This is often a challenge, especially when writing scripts for fun educational videos because I want to be funny and quirky in both languages. Often, jokes and puns do not work in both French and English.

My career path is

I hadn't really planned on being here from high school. People joked I would be working at Sea World. I had planned on going into Marine Biology, and went to UBC. But, I started in Engineering. I transferred to Science - Biology the following year. I started in Engineering because it was the harder faculty to get into, but I realized it wasn't for me. I ended up with a degree in Ecology. Then, I went back to do a degree in Forestry. In the summers, I was always doing informal learning and teaching. I helped deliver soil identification workshops to professionals through the Ministry of Forests and I did some Outreach in schools with a botanist with the Ministry.

I moved to Ontario, and didn't have a job in science for a couple of years. I eventually found a job with Science North travelling around the province with a huge exhibit all about Time. I met my husband on this six month tour. I went to Teacher's College to become a teacher. I was a classroom teacher on and off for about 15 years, and then I got a job as a contract teacher with Science North, to work on the educational videos. It was the perfect job for me. I had tried to get on with Science North about 10 years earlier, but I had just started my family, and was getting teaching contracts. I have now been at Science North for three years, and I love it.

I am motivated by

I get excited when I start developing new hands-on activities to help teachers and students learn about a science concept. I often come across interesting ideas and trivia on Twitter. There are many people out there doing wonderful things with coding, electricity, microscopes, biology, botany, DNA, etc. I love seeing what other scientists are doing and seeing if I can bring that into a program I am working on. The writing and filming of educational videos has been the best part of my job. It has been a big learning curve, and I love seeing the end products after many months of work. They are a creative outlet, and I am most proud of the collaboration that brings these to life. I love the social aspect of my job, and getting other people as excited about various science topics as I am. My job gives me a creative outlet. I can travel and meet different people. I get to interact with visitors at my centre, but I also have time to be reflective. I love being involved in science communication and education.

How I affect peoples’ lives

I am helping teachers become better science teachers. I am giving teachers the confidence to teach a subject that they often do not understand. I am making it fun to learn science and encourage students to keep studying in this field. I have made many educational videos that are a quick way to teach people about a science topic. I have made these videos in both French and English, so we now have French resources, from Ontario, for our French students learning about science topics.

Outside of work I

I love getting out on the water and paddling on my paddle board. I run fairly regularly. I love going out for hikes and camping with my family. I love travelling and going to new places. I like to go to cultural events with my family.

My advice to others

Sometimes it takes many years to get to where you want. People say to follow your passion, but it also takes hard work. If you find a job you enjoy doing, you will have a much happier life. All jobs have their ups and downs, but if you are not happy, or you are stressed in your job, you need to look at what you really want from life. Money is not everything, and if you can find some vocation that will enable you to do the things you enjoy, stick with it.

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Music
  • Art
  • Foreign Languages
  • Math
  • Home Economics
  • Foods & Nutrition
  • Science
  • Technology
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Enjoyed doing things on my own
  • Liked helping people
  • Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
  • Liked reading
  • Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades
  • Wasn't sure what I wanted to do

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