Au-delà de STEM: STEMinar

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Au-delà de STEM: STEMinar

Le 19 janvier, l'école secondaire centrale de Burnaby bourdonnait d'activité alors que les élèves du secondaire de tout le Lower Mainland se rassemblaient pour participer à la conférence annuelle STEMinar.

The event was sponsored by SCWIST’s Youth Engagement Committee through their Quantum Leaps grant. This youth scholarship provides students with $500 and guidance to host their own student-led conference. The event was organized by Burnaby Centrals Beyond STEM club, a youth-led organization dedicated to helping Lower Mainland students discover and pursue their passions in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The STEMinar Conference

La conférence a débuté par une allocution du Dr Peter Liljedahl, professeur d'enseignement des mathématiques à la SFU et ancien canoéiste de sprint olympique. Au cours de son discours, le Dr Liljedahl a expliqué à quel point l'avenir peut être imprévisible, emmenant les étudiants dans un voyage à travers sa vie non linéaire, où il a sauté entre les écoles, les loisirs, les sports et les professions avant de se retrouver à SFU. Ses remarques de clôture étaient dignes de conseils pour quiconque de tout âge.

«L'excellence est une compétence transférable», a-t-il dit aux adolescents captivés. «Vous ne pouvez même pas voir l'endroit où vous serez à 51 ans. Et ne vivez jamais à un endroit où vous devez traverser un pont pour vous rendre au travail.»

Buzzing from these inspirational words, the students headed off to their workshops, two of which were led by SCWIST’s Vienna Lam and Dr. Jenny McQueen.

Jenny’s academic background is in biochemistry and genetics. During her PhD at the University of British Columbia, she used common bread yeast as a tool to understand how cells replicate and divide. So it is no surprise that she hosted a workshop focused on biochemistry! Using simple ingredients that can be found at home (red-skinned potatoes, an acid, an alkaline, and a neutral liquid), students learned about enzymes, catalysts and biochemistry.

Vienna’s workshop gave the students first-hand experience looking at skeletal materials and the insects that are typically used for postmortem interval estimations. As she took remains out of their padded boxes, students got an opportunity to learn more about the role of forensic anthropologists in identifying human remains. Each student delicately handled the remains as Vienna detailed how different characteristics of the skull could be used to help establish a biological profile.

In the second half of the workshop, students made their own pieces of art to take home – painted with maggots! Not only an important puzzle piece in forensic entomology, maggots are also excellent artists. Dipped in a water-soluble paint and then gently placed on a piece of cardstock, they wiggled around and create dramatic lines and whirls on the page.

Après avoir organisé chacun deux ateliers, la journée touchait à sa fin et il était temps de se terminer. Dans l'ensemble, nous ne pourrions être plus fiers de l'équipe de Beyond STEM et de la fantastique conférence qu'ils ont organisée.

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