Have you heard the good news?! Halifax is getting it's own chapter of the Canadian Association of Girls in Science (CAGIS)! Starting in September, 2019.
CAGIS is an award-winning club for girls aged 11 to 16 that facilitates interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). CAGIS chapter members meet monthly to explore STEM with fun, hands-on activities led by women and men experts in a variety of STEM fields.
These monthly events often occur at the work places of our STEM experts, giving girls a behind-the-scenes view and allowing them to experience the lab and field environment for themselves!
If you’d like to learn more, or register, please visit the CAGIS national website at girlsinscience.ca
We had a fantastic time at the first-ever Girls Get WISE Science Retreat at St. FX University on March 23, 2019.
The 11 girls who participated in the event learned the physics behind roller coasters and used that knowledge to build their own roller coasters using foam pipe insulation and marbles. X-Chem Outreach coordinator Jennifer Fraser led the other hands-on session; using various methods to test the pH of various household chemicals.
Thanks to our role models, Kelsey Sampson – Primary Care Paramedic, Dr. Genice Hallett-Tapley – Chemist, Brittany MacDonald – Chemical Engineer, and Dr. Tara Taylor – Mathematician, for chatting to the girls about their careers and broadening their knowledge of STEM careers.
A special thanks also goes out to the Women in Science group at St. FX who had seven members volunteer with us!
Visit our Facebook page, facebook.com/WISEatlantic to view pictures of the event.
Making a career choice can be a difficult decision to make – and WISEatlantic is striving to make that decision a little easier for high-school girls interested in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) career paths. At WISEatlantic’s STEM Aware event October 16, 27 high-school girls learned more about the numerous opportunities that STEM fields have to offer by meeting Mount Saint Vincent University Science graduates who work in those roles. The girls had a chance to talk with role models with job titles ranging from ‘Bone Marrow Transplant Specialist’ to ‘Registered Dietitian.’
Lottie Pascal, a Grade 11 student at Prince Andrew High School, left at the end of the night with a greater understanding of careers she’d never thought of as an option.
“I was really interested in learning about new careers that I might not have considered before: so, for example, stem cell research is not necessarily something that I would have considered before tonight but it definitely peaked my interest,” Lottie said. “If you aren’t too sure about what you want to do and you have an idea of a general field, this really expands your horizons of possible jobs.”
Grade 10 student Rahaf Abu Baker was another attendee who left with a new perspective. “I came to learn and see if I really want to do dentistry or something else – just to open my mind,” Rahaf said, “I thought of university as being a doctor, teacher, engineer, and other jobs like that, but now I know more. There are way more options than I thought there would be.”
The event was an important way for the role models who volunteered their time to meet with the girls to fill a gap they wish had been acknowledged when they were in high school.
Lauren Harrie, a role model at the event, graduated from the Mount with a Bachelor of Science and works as a Bone Marrow Transplant Specialist with the Nova Scotia Health Authority. She says that when you’re in high school, it’s hard to know about all the roles available in STEM because there are many that no one talks about.
“It’s tough to know which different niche areas there are in different concentrations. You hear about the popular, really well-known jobs but there are so many areas that you could go towards,” Lauren says, “I didn’t know a career as a Bone Marrow Transplant Specialist existed while I was doing my Bachelor of Science, so initially this isn’t a career I would’ve imagined myself in – but now that I’m in this field I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
Tanya Cole was another of the role models who volunteered her time to meet with the girls. She works as a Registered Dietitian in long-term care, but didn’t discover her current career path in dietetics until she had already begun studying business at university. She switched to MSVU’s Applied Human Nutrition program after learning it was an option.
“I really didn’t know what I wanted to do coming out of high-school, and I felt like there wasn’t a lot of opportunities to learn about different careers,” Tanya said. “To be able to have a conversation with somebody, ask questions and find out more about what they did – I think that would have been tremendously helpful to me in high-school.”
This year marked the STEM Aware event’s second anniversary, and it’s an event that NSERC Chair WISEatlantic, Tamara Franz-Odendaal, hopes will continue to grow and builds on from our already highly successful activities for girls in junior high.
“By exposing girls to careers they have never heard of before and by providing them with opportunities to meet local women in these STEM careers, we can help to ensure that the girls will make career choices that are the best fit for themselves. In this way, we are reaching our goal of breaking STEM stereotypes for girls in our region”
In future years, this event will continue to provide girls like Lottie and Rahaf with new perspectives on what a career in STEM fields could look like, and give them a solid foundation on which to make post-secondary and career decisions. But Lauren Harrie wants anyone still worried about their future to remember that their decisions aren’t always as final as they think.
“It’s not an end point ever – you can get to one spot and see what other options are available at that point so I think it’s always constant learning,” Lauren says, “I would encourage anyone to go towards the paths where they see themselves and it’s amazing the sorts of opportunities that will blossom from there.”
A message to our role models:
A huge thank-you goes out to all the role models who make the STEM Aware event possible each year! This year, we’d like to give a special thank-you to the following Mount graduates who spent time talking with attendees and answering their questions:
Written by Emily Albert, WISEatlantic Volunteer and Mount student.
We were excited to participate in Science Literacy Week again this year with our event Out of This World! Explore Space with Local Scientists.
As the theme of Science Literacy week this year was Space, we decided to host an event that showcased the space-related research happening right here in Atlantic Canada! Our event featured Dr. Svetlana Barkanova, a Physicist at Memorial University Grenfell Campus, who spoke about her research into Dark Matter; Astrophysicist Dr. Catherine Lovekin who detailed her research who focuses on the structure and evolution of massive starts; and WISEatlantic Chair, Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal, who discussed her research on bone development of Zebrafish in a microgravity environment. The event was hosted at Woodlawn Public Library to a very engaged and curious audience of over 50 people.
We would like to thank NSERC, Science Literacy Week, and Halifax Public Libraries for the support of this event.
On April 7, 2018 WISEatlantic hosted their largest Girls Get WISE Science Retreat yet with 80 girls participating! This year featured three hands-on activities, Nifty Neuroscience, Electrifying Chemistry, and the Mathematics of Winning. We were also fortunate to have El Jones, the Mount's Nancy's Chair in Women's Studies, join us to perform an inspiring spoken word poem. As always, thank you to our sponsors, partners, volunteers, and role models for making this event a success!
On November 16th, 2017, twenty-seven Aboriginal youth from across the province came together at Mount Saint Vincent University for a fun day to explore what STEM is all about.
The youth participated in a hands-on engineering design challenge where they worked in teams to design and construct a functioning windmill with limited resources. They also had the opportunity to learn about exciting STEM careers, such as chemical engineering and dietetics, from local Aboriginal professionals working in these fields. The participants found it a challenging but fun day and were enthusiastic to participate in more hands-on activities, with several of the youth commenting ‘it was really fun and would love to come again’.
WISEatlantic and the Community SciMath Program at Mount Saint Vincent University hosted the first STEMaware event at the Mount on October 18th. This event brought together High School girls in grades 9-12 with current Mount BSc students who had the opportunity to chat informally with Mount BSc Alumnae.
Prior to the students meeting Alumnae, Career Services at the Mount held a session for both High School students and Mount students that discussed STEM careers, the importance of networking, and preparing students with questions they could ask the alumnae. Alumnae shared their current careers with students and how a degree in Science benefited their career paths. Thanks to everyone who came out for a great event, especially all our Mount Alumnae!
Click here for more info on the Community SciMath Program!
WISEatlantic was pleased to host a workshop and a booth for the March 3, 2017 Girls Conference at Mount Saint Vincent University. This conference is a yearly event run by the Alexa McDonough Institute for Women, Gender and Social Justice.
High school girls from across the province participated in the Girls Conference which featured various workshops which included confidence building, leadership skills, personal and professional growth, etc. and also a keynote address by Reeny Smith. WISEatlantic’s workshop Be Inspired: Discover Exciting Careers featured a panel of six female role models who work in a variety of STEM careers. The workshop, which was sponsored by J.D. Irving Limited, was well-received by the over 35 participants present.
“I felt like all the information I learned sparked my thinking for what I will do in the future.” – Workshop Participant
Following the release of our survey "Career Choices and Influencers in STEM: an analysis in the Maritime Provinces" in 2014, Dr. Franz-Odendaal was interviewed by CBC Mainstream, the Rick Howe Show, Daily Commercial News, and the National to discuss the results.Read MoreLess