Mount Allison students visit local elementary school as NSERC Science Ambassadors

19 Dec 2019

Mount Allison students prepare science sessions in French at Dieppe elementary school with support of NSERC outreach program

Seven Mount Allison University Science students spent part of their Fall Reading Week focusing on science outreach. The group travelled to Dieppe’s École Sainte-Thérèse facilitating science activities for over 300 elementary school students, entirely in French.

NSERCScienceAmbassador2019_oneThe Mount Allison students spent two days at the school working with classes from Grades 3,4, and 5. They set up different stations and sessions in a number of areas including biology, biochemistry, chemistry, mathematics and computer science, physics, and psychology.

“It was so rewarding to work with the students and help demonstrate different areas of science,” says Everett Patterson, a fourth-year physics and mathematics students and one of the event organizers. “It’s a great learning opportunity for both the elementary and Mount Allison students involved.”

Mount Allison student volunteers for the two-day session included: Chelsea Wilson (psychology); Caitlin O’Connor (psychology); Jonah Sheinin (biochemistry); Alexandra Fraser (biochemistry); Isabelle Dolan (physics); Everett Patterson (physics and mathematics); and Alexie Ouellette (biology).

The group’s activities were supported by 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.

NSERCScienceAmbassador2019_three“This year, like last year, our students loved the sessions offered by the Mount Allison University students. The Mt. Allison students had a lovely way to talk with our students and to keep them interested for the duration of the workshops. So much, that the only constructive comment my students wanted to provide was that they wished the session was longer so they could complete all activities,” says Angela LeBlanc-Cormier, a 5th Grade teacher at École Sainte-Thérèse. “I appreciated that many of the activities were directly related to our study programs (science, math…). We had an interesting discussion when we returned to our class.”

École Sainte-Thérèse student Sophie Michaud echoed this sentiment.

“I loved the workshops this year,” she says. “I was able to see and learn about different sciences. I also loved being able to do experiments, like those for the electrical circuit or memory. Thank you!”

Biology student Alexie Ouellette who is from Dieppe and attended elementary and high school in French, organized a session to help demonstrate sensory physiology with the young students, an area she is studying as part of her biology degree. She had students place their hands in buckets of water of varying temperatures to gauge how their skin reacted in different temperatures.

“It was great to work with children and move beyond the ‘typical’ science demonstrations,” says Ouellette. “Being there for two days, we were able to share some different areas of science activity, like an exercise with batteries for physics and a session and activities on how the brain works for psychology.”

This marks the second time Mount Allison students have participated in the program. A team of students visited École Sainte-Thérèse in February 2019 during the Winter Reading week.

NSERCScienceAmbassador2019_twoPatterson, who is from Moncton and attended school in the Francophone Sud school district before coming to Mount Allison, says the NSERC program gives French students an opportunity to be exposed to science in new ways.

“Being part of the program for two years, it was incredible to go back to the school and have students remember the sessions from last year,” he says. “It was neat to further the relationship and learning over the two visits.”

The Mount Allison team hopes to plan another science outreach activity through the NSERC program, which will see elementary students visit campus during the Winter 2020 Reading Week.

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