Grenfell in the Community

Let’s Talk Science volunteer Jasmine Pinksen demonstrating solutions density to children by adding different components and then adding grapes to see if they sank or floated; photo by D. Walsh
Let’s Talk Science volunteer Jasmine Pinksen demonstrating solutions density to children by adding different components and then adding grapes to see if they sank or floated; photo by D. Walsh

Grenfell Campus and Let’s Talk Science (LTS) partnered for the yearly Challenge that brings students from schools around the Western Newfoundland area into the university campus to exercise their curiosity.

LTS is a national organization that focuses on exposing children, from kindergarten through grade 12, to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) through activities that are age appropriate. On May 2nd, Grenfell welcomed students from grades 6 through 8 where they had the chance to work as a team with other students from their school.

At Grenfell, the teams participated in a STEM-themed quiz, answered questions about satellite images, and had the chance to build a popsicle-stick arm to transport pom-poms from one cup to another. Most of the activities are created by LTS and are available in their website, but there are other activities and games that have been suggested by people involved with the LTS and its events, such as volunteers and educators.

Grenfell provided space and volunteers, with financial support for the Challenge provided by Hibernia Management and Development Corporation. LTS also provides monetary support for STEM community events and volunteer appreciation. There are many roles to be filled that range from team leaders to judges. In this year’s Challenge, team leaders included Grenfell students with environmental science, social sciences, business and arts backgrounds. A judge may be a professor of policy or mathematics, a science student, or anyone else that may be able to help. The diversity of the people involved in the Challenge offers flexibility to accommodate the different needs of children.

Schools are invited each year to bring their students by Dr. Christine Campbell, a faculty supervisor at Grenfell who has been involved with LTS for years and who is the main coordinator for this event.

Graduate student Ally Groenen and undergraduate students Kelsey Jewer and Charliza Slusher are the coordinators for the LTS program at Grenfell, which oversees events such as the Challenge and Tricks and Treats (the latter only runs every other year). Ally also coordinates with individual teachers for day activities where she visits classes with kit bins put together by LTS. The activities are occasionally modified to fit different age ranges and to accommodate educators’ interests for their classes. Teachers have suggested topics such as

“soil and water, human anatomy, atmospheric sciences, electricity, matter, simple machines, and dinosaurs,”

 said Ally.

Let’s Talk Science volunteers Alberto Nuñez Teijero, Ally Groenen, and Heather Spicer demonstrating activities with the help of children; photo by D. Walsh.

Ally stated that getting volunteers on board may be challenging, but she also encouraged participation by reassuring that students and others with a non-science background can volunteer. Training is provided through LTS official material and there is a volunteer portal at the LTS website where people can go in and get more ideas.

“It’s good to spread the knowledge of science around the city.”

through outreach, said Ally. She also said that she has been recognized as “the science lady” on the street.

Dr. Christine Campbell shared some quotes from participating children about why they decided to participate in the Challenge:

“It is a good opportunity to learn new things.”

“Because I wanted to learn more about Science.”

“My friend made me.”

And of course,

“I love science.”

Dr. Campbell also said that children gave input on their experience after the event and said that the Challenge was:

“Very fun, the most fun I’ve had in a year.”

“It was very interesting and fun. I was scared at first but all that went away because it was fun.”

Grenfell remains committed to community involvement through education and by facilitating extracurricular activities.

Dr. Christine Campbell and LTS volunteers; photo by D. Walsh.
Dr. Christine Campbell and LTS volunteers; photo by D. Walsh.

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