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REF NO.: 79

SUBJECT: SWGC: Grenfell chemistry goes to Labrador
DATE: Nov. 1, 2005

Geoff Rayner-Canham’s chemistry show that has become so popular with this province’s youth once again hit the road – this time, touring parts of Labrador.

During Thanksgiving week, Dr. Rayner-Canham and environmental chemistry student Amy Snook took their chemistry show “Chemistry is Everywhere!” to schools across Labrador. In the spring, Dr. Rayner-Canham and Ms. Snook gave presentations along the southern Labrador coast; this fall voyage was intended to cover some of the central and northern Labrador schools.

The purpose of the presentations was to show students the excitement of science and chemistry in particular. Among the topics covered included the new materials that chemists have developed to improve the students’ lives, how consumer chemistry is something they encounter every day, and how many careers require a knowledge of chemistry.

“Chemistry is such a major part of our lives,” said Dr. Rayner-Canham, “It is crucial that students realise its impact and importance.”

Dr. Rayner-Canham is a professor of chemistry and environmental science at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Memorial University’s campus in Corner Brook, while Ms. Snook is just completing her undergraduate degree in environmental chemistry. During the shows, Dr. Rayner-Canham and Ms. Snook presented the material as a team. Ms. Snook performed the live demonstrations and provided the discussion of career to which she added an account of her own experiences.

The pair opened the tour in Nain and then travelled to Goose Bay, Northwest River, and Shashatshui, before concluding in Labrador City.

“The response was awesome,” said Ms. Snook, “At each school, the kids were totally attentive for the whole 50-minute production.”

In the larger schools, just the senior grades participated, while in the smaller schools, such as Northwest River, the entire school from kindergarten to Level 3 attended.

“It was vital to have Amy along,” added Dr. Rayner-Canham, “She got the demonstrations organized and the students asked her lots of questions about what it was like to be a young woman scientist. And at Sheshatshui, Amy was mobbed by a bunch of enthusiastic junior high girls who had her repeat some of the demonstrations. The teachers had to almost drag the girls back to their classrooms at the end.”

Financial support for the program comes from the National Science and Engineering Council of Canada as part of their PromoScience initiative. Air Labrador generously covered the airfare for Ms. Snook at the suggestion of LeGrow’s Travel in Corner Brook. This is the last year of the three-year funding cycle and both Dr. Rayner-Canham and Ms. Snook are hoping funding can be obtained for another three years so they can reach every school in Labrador.

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