Inuvik youth receive hands-on lessons on science and tech

Activities included homemade record players, microscopes, virtual reality and more

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More than 20 youth from around the community participated in various science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related activities that were hosted for free by Actua at the Inuvik Centennial Library on July 19.

Ideally, we’re trying to show them the STEM that’s already in their community, and just utilize the materials that we brought to bring to light everything that’s already around them and the knowledge they already have,” said Morgan Murphy, a member of Actua’s outreach team.

Actua is a national organization that offers science, engineering, technology and other  educational programs to youth across the country. 

During the session, local youth explored the mysteries of the vinyl record by making their own homemade record player that was made of a paper cone, a sewing needle and a pencil.

It’s more fun to learn when you can get your hands on a record instead of sitting and watching someone talk about it. Sound waves – when you can visualize them going through the needle into your ear, instead of a picture on the board,” said Murphy. “As soon as they hear one drum or the sound of someone’s voice, their face just lights up.”

Lawry Semmler, right, is an awe as Actua member Morgan Murphy demonstrates the capabilities of the homemade record player. Aaron Hemens/NNSL photo
Lawry Semmler, right, is an awe as Actua member Morgan Murphy demonstrates the capabilities of the homemade record player. Aaron Hemens/NNSL photo

Youth also examined the textures of objects such as a sponge under a microscope, which drew “oohs” and “aahs” from the group.

They also engaged in art, math and coding patterns using robotic technology. Virtual reality was utilized as well, where youth were able to hold and examine organs such as the heart and the brain.

Everyone has different learning styles. Personally, I just think hands on learning makes it more fun,” said Murphy.

She added that the purpose of the team’s visit was to offer additional programming for youth who were unable to attend Summer Literacy Camps that were hosted in all ISR communities from July 2 to 19.

I think STEM can open so many doors in so many fields. You don’t have to be a scientist to do science everyday,” she said. “You don’t have to like doing math in a textbook to be good at calculating angles when you’re out on the land or hunting or things like that.”

Murphy and her team were just one of several Actua outreach teams that had offered STEM programming at the summer camps, as well as for other communities in the NWT throughout the month of July.  

She said that the goal of the programming is to build confidence in the youth and help them realize that they are capable of finding success in the STEM fields.

They might say they hate math and they don’t get multiplication. They won’t pursue that any further. But if we can kind of have more hands on experiences that they can carry forward – in high school, they can maybe see that it’s not just from a textbook,” she said. “They can start expanding their horizons now and hopefully that will go forward in the future.”

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Aaron Hemens served as the editor of the Inuvik Drum from January to August 2019. He's responsible for reporting on everything Inuvik, from covering community gatherings and sporting events, to writing the weekly columns. He's a dedicated photographer who loves getting to know the town through the community members that he meets. He's originally from Ottawa, Ont., where he graduated from Carleton University's journalism program in 2018. He can be contacted at 867-777-4545 or at inuvikdrum@nnsl.com. You can check out his photos on his Instagram account: @aaron.hemens.