Getting students excited about science
I had the pleasure of presenting to about 100 high school students from Halton region school board at Mohawk College on March 4th. The theme of the day was how using STEM skills has helped entrepreneurs start their own businesses. The seminar was put on by Let’s Talk Science, a great non-profit that tries to engage students and teachers in STEM education.
I was asked to participate given my science background and now having started my own business, Primate Tales, that educates students about primates, evolution and biology. It is really interesting as a lot of the skills I have needed to develop and grow the business I drew from my science background. There is a constant need to test and re-test ideas and ways to gain more business, just like scientists have to test and re-test their methods.
I had four different groups of high school students, mostly in grade 9 and 10, participate in my seminar. During each one my aim was to encourage the students, even if they had a small interest in science, to take those upper level science courses, so as to not close off their options for what programs they can apply to for university and college. I was a bit of an anomaly, going to undergrad in the US, I could get away with not needing upper level chemistry, physics or calculus. I wish though that I had taken those classes in high school, as it would have made my university courses in those subjects a lot easier.
I also wanted the students to see how skills learned in science courses can help with career options and choices that go far beyond the lab and help with general critical thinking skills that are useful for any job.
It was great to interact with the students and show them the collection of ape, hominid (human ancestor) and modern humans skulls in explaining what Primate Tales does when we do school programs in Toronto and the GTA. They asked why gorillas have such big canines, compared to us, since they are herbivores and don’t eat any meat. The gorilla’s canines are for dominance and to show other males they are tougher and stronger to gain access to a group of females. We know that, as females have smaller canines than the males, and they don’t need them for their diet.
I hope at the endof that day we were able to inspire students to take science courses as they make their way through high school and to give science a chance, even if they don’t think they want to be a scientist. There are so many ways that a background in science education can give students skills they need to be successful in many different careers.
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