A Memorial University graduate student will ignite young minds and get them excited about science, engineering and technology when he visits schools in Happy Valley-Goose Bay later this month.
Stephen Penney, a master’s student from Memorial’s School of Human Kinetics and Recreation in St. John’s, is travelling to Labrador for the second time this year to demonstrate to primary and junior high school students that science is both “cool and fun.”
Mr. Penney is one of the co-ordinators of the Let’s Talk Science Partnership Program (LTSPP) at Memorial, one of 22 partnership program sites across Canada. Let’s Talk Science is an educational science and outreach organization with a mission to improve science literacy through leadership, innovative educational programs, research and advocacy. The partnership program partners educators with post-secondary science and engineering students who conduct hands-on activities with youth across Canada.
In May 2007, Mr. Penney and Cheryl Staubitzer, an honours student in the Department of Biochemistry at Memorial, visited five schools in Labrador in five days, bringing their passion for science and engineering into classrooms in Sheshatshiu, North West River and Happy Valley-Goose Bay. It was the first time in the 10-year history that volunteers with the LTSPP were able to travel to Labrador.
“After I visited Labrador and saw the great response we received from the students, teachers, administration, media and residents I truly fell in love with it,” said Mr. Penney. “One of the program’s major goals this year is to promote science, engineering and technology throughout as much of Labrador as possible.”
From Sept. 24-28, Mr. Penney will visit Peacock Primary, Mealy Mountain Collegiate, and Queen of Peace Middle School to do hands on science and engineering activities with students and teachers. In total, Mr. Penney hopes to reach out and connect with more than 800 students.
In addition to travelling to Labrador for the first-time ever last year, co-ordinators of the LTSPP increased the site’s funding which soared from roughly $6,000 to more than $36,000.
That meant volunteers could travel to more areas of the province and triple their science outreach. They connected with more than 6,000 junior and high-school students, up from around 2,000 the previous year – the largest geographic coverage organizers had ever seen.
“As long as our program continues to receive the support from our funders, we will continue to visit as much of our wonderful province as economically possible,” said Mr. Penney, a native of Corner Brook.
He said his site’s goals for 2007-08 include visiting other parts of Labrador, including southern and northern areas, as well as partnering with Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Memorial’s campus in Corner Brook, increasing funding to $45,000 and reaching roughly 9,000 students.
Supporters providing funding for volunteers to travel throughout the province for 2007-08 thus far include: Memorial’s offices of the president, vice-presidents academic and research, the School of Graduate Studies, the Division of Student Affairs and Services, and the Faculty of Science.
The RBC Foundation has been a proud supporter of the National Let’s Talk Science program that promotes rural/remote outreach throughout Canada.
“Our rural and remote outreach program is now a beacon of achievement to be followed by all other sites throughout Canada,” said Mr. Penney. “We are currently ranked number three in funding and number two in children reached. If we continue along the same path that we were following last year, with a continual increase in funding and volunteer support we will surely become number one in the country for provincial science outreach.”
To learn more about the Let’s Talk Science Partnership Program at Memorial, visit www.mun.ca/LTS/