Science Outreach Through the Eyes of a Volunteer

2014-11-18

Outreach volunteers from Let’s Talk Science impact the children, youth, parents, and educators that they work with. But it goes both ways – our volunteers are also learning new things and having fun too!

Earlier this fall, Let’s Talk Science Outreach volunteers from the University of Toronto Mississauga campus participated in Science Literacy Week at both their campus and public libraries. This week-long celebration, September 22-27, was initiated by an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto St. George campus. The volunteers taking part in this celebration had a lot to say about their experience doing hands-on science throughout the week.

“It was great to see so many children of all ages get excited about science,” says Jenna Friedt, Let’s Talk Science Outreach site coordinator at the University of Toronto Mississauga campus. “One boy could hardly wait for us to get our tables set up and stayed around to watch us so that he was sure to be first in line to give the activities a try.”

The Let’s Talk Science activities included DNA extraction from fruit, smart phone microscopes, electric motors and pH testing. The activities were a hit both on campus and at the Mississauga Central Public Library, attracting a diverse range of students and general public!

“I can remember one anecdote," recounts Pramath Kakodkar, Let’s Talk Science Outreach volunteer at the University of Toronto Mississauga campus. "When there was a fire alarm and everybody was asked to evacuate. There was one boy at our pH station who did not want to leave. He was fascinated by the extreme colour change from purple blue to red on adding lemon juice and wanted to further investigate why adding bleach to the anthocyanin changed it to yellow despite the fire evacuation protocol. I thought it was just awesome.”

Kakodkar originally only signed up for one day at the Central Library. He had such a fun time that he decided to come out for all four days!

“We love how excited our volunteers get about science outreach,” says Friedt, whose role includes recruiting, training and supporting the volunteers.

Another keen volunteer was Amina Yonis who was visiting from the UK and wanted to do some volunteering for Let’s Talk Science while in Canada. Here is what Amina had to say about her experience volunteering for Science Literacy Week: “As an international volunteer partaking in Science Literacy Week for the first time, I thoroughly enjoyed working with the Let’s Talk Science team, students and the general public. The event that took place in the public library of Mississauga exposed me to people from all walks of life, enabling the engagement of conversation about science research. Not only did I find this a highly rewarding and educational experience, but immensely enjoyable. I regularly found myself in highly stimulating conversation with students who wanted some guidance for their future career plans. Toronto is a beautiful city and I will be sure to work with Let’s Talk Science when I return.”

We couldn’t accomplish so much at Let’s Talk Science without the dedication of our volunteers. Thanks to everyone who is working hard and enjoying their time helping youth to build science, tech, engineering, and math (STEM) skills.