“To a kid in Grade Five, scientific topics such as anatomy or medicine might not seem terribly interesting,” says Jessy Livingston-Thomas, a PhD student at UPEI’s Atlantic Veterinary College, and the coordinator of UPEI’s Let’s Talk Science outreach program. “But teach it as Grossology — the study of burps, scabs, and burns — and suddenly they’re fascinated.”
Let’s Talk Science is a national charitable organization that creates and delivers science-learning programs that turn kids on to science and develop their potential to become Canada’s next generation of researchers and innovators. Let’s Talk Science trains more than 2,500 outreach volunteers- post-secondary students and faculty from 33 universities and colleges across Canada – to bring science to life.
“It’s a great organization to work with,” says Livingston-Thomas. “They provide great resources for us as volunteers, but they’re also flexible enough to allow us to bring some of our own research and specialities into the classroom.”
The Let’s Talk Science volunteers from UPEI visit students across the province, demonstrating hands-on science.
“There are some fun activity kits that we can use with the kids,” explains Livingston-Thomas. “The ‘bone-zone’ is very popular with younger students. There are different demonstrations we can give for high school students, including a forensic science kit we call CSI PEI.”
The CSI PEI kit, named after the popular television show, includes tools for fingerprinting, footprint analysis, and ink chromatography.
“The volunteers for UPEI’s Let’s Talk Science are mostly graduate students,” says Livingston-Thomas. “We’ve visited between six and eight schools over the school year. It’s a lot of fun, and a warm-up for what will be our biggest project of the year: our rural road trip.”
Livingston-Thomas and the rest of the volunteers are organizing a two-day road trip at the end of May to eastern Prince Edward Island.
“Over the two days, we’ll be teaching between six- and seven-hundred students at four different schools,” says Livingston-Thomas with a smile. “It’s a lot of fun for the kids, but a lot of fun for us, too. I think it’s important for them to meet people who work and study as researchers, and see that it’s a real possibility for them in the future.”