Inuvik hosted its fifth annual Science Rendezvous at the East Three Elementary School gym on May 11, with hundreds of families engaging in interactive booths presented by over 20 local organizations.
Through hands-on learning activities, event organizer Annika Trimble said Science Rendezvous allows youth to acquire a deeper understanding of the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
“It’s very much self-directed and exploratory. It’s not like in the classroom where it’s so structured and limited. The kids can go to the booths that they’re interested in,” said Trimble. “They can go from activity to activity, or what appeals to them. They can spend two minutes at a station or an hour if they’re really into it.”
Trimble, who works as the outreach coordinator at the Aurora Research Institute, added that the event also helps to increase awareness around the science that happens in and around the community.
“Whether it’s the (NWT) Power Corporation or even the justice committee, there’s an aspect of science for so much of what we do in the North. Some people think that there’s not a lot of technical jobs in our tiny Northern towns, but I really think there is,” she said. “You think about the civil engineering, the technology. So many things that are required to keep our little homes going.”
There was a wide range of different organizations at the event, from the NWT Geological Survey and Parks Canada, to the Inuvialuit Communications Society and the RCMP. Each booth was required to have an interactive feature, whether it be VR headsets, microscopes, wave tanks, slime-making or some other activity.
“So often – if it’s something delicate like a specimen or technology – so often they’re told not to touch anything. But here, even if it’s a very fine skeleton or something, the whole objective for today is to touch it and explore it,” said Trimble.
By offering such a diverse lineup, she said that she wants community members to understand that there is more to science than just research and calculations.
“Science is not a white guy with glasses. There is nobody in a lab coat here with a pocket protector. All of these people – you can call them scientists: your auntie, your uncle, your pharmacist, a person at the hospital,” she said. “All those people have science-related jobs. For them to understand at a young age that science isn’t just biology, chemistry, math or physics – but that it is our land.”
In terms of what youth take away from the event, she said she hopes they not only feel confident, but that they see themselves as scientists in the making.
“They don’t have to feel that science is a hard course that they’re not good at. Science is something hands-on and fun that happens in our community all the time,” she said. “Here, try this activity. You are good at this. Science is enjoyable and accessible.”