Let’s Talk Science: Engaging kids in learning

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In a world run by texting and social networking, engaging kids in the exciting world of science is quite the challenge.

Those up for the challenge, the award-winning science outreach organization, Let’s Talk Science (LTS), is connecting UNBSJ students to kids throughout the greater Saint John area. LTS is a non-profit, award-winning program aimed at delivering science activities to children and youth nationwide. The goal of the program is to improve science literacy in Canada through a number of outreach activities and partnerships.

UNBSJ, like many other universities in the country, is actively involved in this organization and have a number of volunteers eager to teach kids about science.

Jen Loughery, the site coordinator at the university, is responsible for recruiting and training volunteers for the program. She also constantly seeks partnership opportunities and ways for the community to get involved.

LTS offers science outreach through classroom visits and campus activities such as lab tours, science nights and the annual “All Science Challenge”—a question and answer challenge for students in grades six through eight.

So far, the UNBSJ chapter has about 60 student volunteers and more are being accepted daily. Volunteers for the program do not necessarily have to be science students but should be energetic and passionate about helping kids engage in learning. Volunteers can pick and choose what they want to be involved in and have opportunities to work in elementary, middle and high schools.

Aside from the science department at the university, Let’s Talk Science has many partnerships to help them fund and run their programs. Some of the partnerships include the Provincial Government of Ontario, Imperial Oil, Esso, Honda, Shaw and many more.

The driving forces behind the program are the volunteers and the interest from educators. Teachers have graciously accepted LTS into their classrooms and without their consent, running the program would be impossible. The main challenge faced by LTS is the need to balance volunteer and educator interest in the program.

Let’s Talk Science has offered a number of various activities throughout the years, but sometimes they don’t cover the entire curriculum. Site coordinators are aware of this issue and are constantly looking for new, improved and creative ways to promote scientific learning.

While LTS provides outreach to all kids, it has a special interest in reaching out to high risk groups such as those living in rural areas and aboriginal schools. These schools don’t always have the same opportunities has urban schools and LTS makes it a high priority to highlight their needs. Volunteers may have the opportunity to travel out to these areas to provide the same exciting and energetic programming that the inner-city schools are rather accustomed to.

Let’s Talk Science has been well received by the university and more partnerships are being created on a regular basis.

Jen Loughery is passionate about her position as coordinator and wants to instill her love of science in the children of Saint John. “At the end of the day, Let’s Talk Science is about having fun with science,” says Loughery, “Science professionals do some pretty cool and amazing things.”

If you take a special interest in exploring the world of science with kids and would like more information on the Let’s Talk Science program at UNBSJ, contact Jen Loughery at  lts.unbsj@gmail.com.