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Students tackle science hands-on
Rendezvous event gives people taste of career choice

Shawn Giilck
Northern News Services
Thursday, May 14, 2015

Students and parents had a rendezvous with science at East Three School on May 9.

NNSL photo/graphic

Dak de Kerckhove shows Brennan Sutton what the inside of a fish looks like at the Science Rendezvous event at East Three School on May 9. - Shawn Giilck/NNSL photo

The first-ever Science Rendezvous event was held at the secondary school gym Saturday afternoon, and it drew in dozens of people to have a closer look at what a science education could mean for a career.

Some of the examples, such as the demonstrations by the Inuvik Fire Department, likely weren't obvious, while others, including fish dissections by the staff of the Gwich'in Renewable Resources Board, were classic examples of science in action.

East Three School teamed up with the Aurora Research Institute and professor R.J. Dwayne Miller, the founder of the Canadian Science Rendezvous program, to offer the event.

Aurora Research Institute staff member Matthew Dares was one of the organizers of the event.

"We invited organizations from around town who used some aspect of science in their jobs to show youth and adults what science they use to give them an introduction to what you can do in our community and other communities as well," he said.

The idea, he said, is to "excite children, and more importantly their parents" about to where a working knowledge of science can take you."

Too often people think in stereotypes of scientists being "geeks in lab coats," Dares said.

Science is so much more that, he said, pointing to the Aurora Research Institute booth where spear-throwing was being demonstrated.

That's an example of science and technology more than 30,000 years old, he noted, but it's not the kind of thing people associate with the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) courses that too many students avoid.

"It's been great that we've had such a good (response) from all of the organizations, like the hospital, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the (NWT) Power Corporation and more. Everybody's come in to show off what they work with in their day-to-day careers.

"There's such a broad range of where science is relevant to our life," Dares said. "We hope to hold this annually.

Deborah Reid, the principal of both the elementary and secondary school at East Three, was in complete agreement with Dares.

"I think it's important that kids know about the different kinds of opportunities and careers there are that are based around science," she said. "It's one of the subjects areas that we have to teach, but some students need to be inspired to think of themselves as scientists or to have a curiosity around science, and this kind of event helps to spark that."

"Hopefully, they'll bring some of the knowledge they pick up here back to their classes and take it from there," she added. "There's lot of roles and jobs for science even in our community, and this highlights that. Kids can see, yeah, science is cool. That places more value on science in the school."

Reid added it's a nice family event as well, that she thought was well-received.

Sam Skinner echoed those sentiments.

The East Three student had just finished trying out the atlatl (spearthrowing) demonstration, which he pronounced "very cool."

"I'm really liking seeing what people do at their jobs," he said, adding the opportunity had given him a new perspective on how scientific concepts are integrated into the workplace.

Paul Morey watched as his five-year-old daughter Adrianna was transfixed by a wildlife display. He said, "it's to let the kids and parents see everything that's here."

Miller waxed more-than-enthusiastic about the Science Rendezvous's visit.

He was first introduced to the concept some years ago in Germany, where he was working. People were paying to attend the Science Rendezvous there, something which he said he "couldn't imagine" happening here in Canada.

"Then I said to myself, 'Why couldn't it happen here?'" he said. "So I set out to prove that it could work."

Since then, the rendezvous has spread across Canada.

"I'm very much the geek in the white coat," he added with a smile. "But science is so much more than that."

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