Mount Allison students visit Dieppe elementary school as NSERC Student Ambassadors
Science students lead experiments in French during the University’s Reading Week
A group of Mount Allison University students brought science experiments to life at an elementary school in Dieppe, NB recently.
Seven Mount Allison students from a number of science departments visited Dieppe’s École Sainte-Thérèse over the University’s Reading Week, working with students in Grades 2, 4, and 5 — entirely in French.
Working with Dr. Geneviève Desmarais, Mount Allison associate psychology professor, as well as teachers and administrators at École Sainte-Thérèse, the Mount Allison students arranged their Discover Science visit with support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Student Ambassadors program. The national program works to encourage post-secondary students and fellows to share their science and engineering experience with youth from groups that are under-represented in STEM. Close to 300 students at École Sainte-Thérèse participated in activities and demonstrators facilitated by the Mount Allison team.
“I remember similar presentations when I was in elementary school and learning a lot from them,” says Everett Patterson, a fourth-year physics and math student from Moncton. “We wanted to reach out to the Francophone community and help students in elementary school experience and learn about science beyond their regular curriculum. It’s a great way to experience science hands-on and hopefully spark interest for some of the children participating.”
Patterson and his Mount Allison counterparts worked for several months to prepare age-appropriate experiments and demonstrators in biology, chemistry, math, physics, and psychology. The students spent two full days at École Sainte-Thérèse working with the children in small groups, allowing them to rotate through activities.
“One of our most popular activities was a biology station that demonstrated the important role blubber plays in whales and other animals,” says Patterson. “Using shortening, the children got to learn about and experience how blubber works as an insulator for animals. It was pretty cool to run a hands-on activity like this.”
Biology student Alexie Ouellette agrees.
“My favourite part of this activity was seeing the kid’s reactions when they realized that when their hand was covered in Crisco, which simulates the blubber in animals, they could not feel the ice-cold water on the part where their hand was covered with Crisco,” she says. “I also loved seeing how they appreciated all the activities and hope we motivated some to learn more about the different branches in science!”
Students and teachers alike say the activities organized by Mount Allison visitors were a positive addition to their school day.
“My students adored the activities,” says 5th Grade teacher Mérika Losier. “They understood well the concepts that were taught. Personally, I thought it was really at their level. I would love for them to come back next year.”