One of the Aurora Research Institute’s (ARI) most dedicated and science-savvy staff members is being recognized on a national scale.
Annika Trimble, the outreach coordinator for ARI, was given the “Making a Difference” award from the Canadian Association of Science Centres (CASC) on May 10.
“It’s kind of crazy because I look at the large science centres that are part of this network. We’re talking Telus World of Science in Vancouver, the Canadian Museum of Natural History and the Canadian Museum of Nature,” said Trimble. “All these big guys, and I am one person in the Western Arctic.”
Instead of attending the award ceremony in Halifax, NS, Trimble submitted a one-minute thank you video and elected to stay in Inuvik because she didn’t want to miss the Science Rendezvous event on May 11, which she had spent months organizing.
“In many ways, it’s a reflection of who Annika is, that she would stay here and focus on the community rather than go and get a national recognition (award),” said Tanya Henderson, the communications/research admin officer at ARI. “We acknowledge how important that is. She’s prioritizing the community.”
As the outreach coordinator, Trimble said she’s responsible for supporting teachers by providing hands-on activities to youth in Inuvik and in surrounding communities.
“(My job is) to make science, technology, engineering, math – any of those STEM topics – more engaging. So that might mean a classroom visit, it could mean bringing in a researcher or someone who does science-related stuff in the community,” she said. “We work with the educators and teachers and say ‘What do you need? What are your curriculum links that you wish to have something hands-on for the students to do?’ It’s community-driven and needs-based.”
In 2018, Trimble helped organize and deliver more than 140 outreach events to nearly 3,000 students in six communities throughout the Beaufort Delta Region.
“I’ve only been working here since November, but immediately upon meeting Annika, her passion that she has for the outreach activities is immediately apparent,” said Henderson. “You can just see how she applies that to everything that she does.”
Trimble coordinates outreach programs for preschoolers to college students, but she said she spends most of her time working with students in Grades 3 to 6.
“To see their faces light up, or to hear the classroom get outrageously noisy because they’re getting so excited, it’s really rewarding. That’s the best part,” she said. “Sometimes we introduce really complex subjects… We do a review in the end and kids in Grade 2 get it. They really get it if you give them something hands-on to tie it all together. Sometimes they even surprise me with how deep their learning goes.”
Her goal, she continued, is to help students realize that they can find success in the STEM fields.
“I had one Grade 6 boy who said that he was surprised that science was fun and that he was good at it. That was like – wow,” she said. “That’s what we want. We want them when they’re younger to feel like STEM (fields) are accessible things and fun things.”