Sparking a love of science and self

2016-08-16

Let’s Talk Science has impact beyond experiments.

Let’s Talk Science kicked-started Preema Sarkar’s love of science into high gear. That’s how the third year biochemistry student at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) describes her first encounter with the Let’s Talk Science Outreach program. She was a high school student attending a national youth session in Ottawa where Let’s Talk Science was invited to talk to students.

Preema

“I think they did a couple of activities,” said Sarkar. “It was a chemistry-based experiment. The person who was presenting it made me feel really excited.”

The experience left such an impression on Sarkar she immediately asked to volunteer. She attended every session Let’s Talk Science hosted at her high school and when she graduated, she looked for an opportunity to volunteer with the Outreach program. “I kept my eye out and made sure the university I went to had Let’s Talk Science so I could be involved.”

Sarkar’s passion for science is evident in the excitement in her voice and smile on her face when she talks about her involvement with Let’s Talk Science. Not raised in a family of “science lovers” – her father is a journalist and her mother has a masters degree in psychology and philosophy - people are often perplexed by her intense interest. A straight A student in arts classes, Sarkar never really enjoyed science until her Grade 7 science teacher made an interesting connection between the world of arts and science.

Preema and Rilea“He told us to think of chemistry like a language,” she said. “You’re using this compound and this compound to get this. It’s like words to create a sentence. So, I thought of science in a different way. That's where I started to be interested in it.”

Sarkar is currently the Let’s Talk Science Outreach Coordinator at UNB. She’s proud of how she and other volunteers present science to students in a fun and interesting way. She says that’s one of the things that makes Let’s Talk Science a great organization to work for.

Let’s Talk Science describes scientific concepts to students “in a way that the person who is presenting is enthusiastic about it (the topic) and they show you cool things that make the audience want to learn more. It keeps the person engaged. That’s what Let’s Talk Science did for me,” said Sarkar.

There was another benefit of being a part of Let’s Talk Science that Sarkar didn’t anticipate. Volunteering has done a lot to help build her confidence and self-esteem.

Preema volunteering“The thing that shaped me was that when I’d present a kid would come up to me and say ‘I want to do what you’re doing. I can see that you’re so happy teaching this.’ They ask me questions about what I’m studying. They are showing interest in me as a person. That’s when I start loving myself even more. The fact that I can help people feel the way that I’m feeling and maybe one day do what I'm doing to other kids. So, it’s like passing it forward.”

Lessons learned in the classroom and while volunteering help her every day. When she experiences a challenge or if something doesn’t work out, like many experiments, she doesn’t give up. She looks at it from another perspective and keeps trying. Sarkar is looking forward to continuing her volunteering, completing her PhD and kicking her science career into another gear.