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An Out of This World Discovery by Julia Odendaal
For: Students For: Teachers/Parents For: Women in SETT

An Out of This World Discovery by Julia Odendaal

Around the world right now there are so many things happening, with COVID-19 and the US presidential election. Not many people are focusing on the up-and-comers of scientific discoveries. 2020 has been a crazy year, not a great one but for the Canadian Space Agency 2020 has come with the findings of a possible second solar system, and a new leader.  

Around the world right now there are so many things happening, with COVID-19 and the US presidential election. Not many people are focusing on the up-and-comers of scientific discoveries. 2020 has been a crazy year, not a great one but for the Canadian Space Agency 2020 has come with the findings of a possible second solar system, and a new leader.  

 There are so many amazing women doing incredible things in today’s world. Including Lisa Campbell, she is the first female President of the Canadian Space Agency. She stepped into this huge role with hard work and dedication. Using her leadership skills, she guided the agency to new heights. Campbell previously served as the Associate Deputy Minister with Veterans Affairs Canada. She also acquired a Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science from McGill University and a Legum Baccalaureus of Law from Dalhousie Law Schoolcreating a strong educational background that’s great asset in this position. She has worked in both the private and public sectors in employment, constitutional and criminal law.  

 Her long-standing history with the Government of Canada includes Assistant Deputy Minister, Defense and Marine Procurement, Public Services and Procurement, where she provided military and marine procurement solutions, as well as Senior Deputy Commissioner for Canada’s competition authority, responsible for reviewing business conduct across the board.  All of this experience makes her the perfect person to lead the Canadian Space Agency through the multitude of funding opportunities coming their way over the next several years.  

 Many of us have heard of the mythical hybrid between human and horsethe centaur, but I’m sure you wouldn’t believe what I’m about to tell you!  

 The ATLAS telescope located in Hawaii captured images of what appears to be a second solar system. They’re calling this centaur (a hybrid between a comet and an asteroid) orbiting object the P/2019 LD2. Because of its composition and its overall potential to move rapidly across the solar system, some astronomers believe that centaurs are a so-called missing link between small icy masses in the Kuiper Belt which is beyond Neptune and comets that regularly visit the inner solar system (SN: 11/19/94).

 Sciencenews.org calls these icy masses, short-period comets. They are expected to orbit around the sun once per decade. Sometimes will even come close enough to be seen from earth. Other longer period comets including Halley’s Comet, which only visits our solar system once in a century. These comets most likely originated from further beyond the sun.  

 Oftentimes, we (as amateurs) think of asteroids and comets as pretty much the same thing. Astronomers are now teaching us the differences, and also about the increasing number of “crossovers” or hybrids, just like the mythical centaur. The hybrids first appear to act as a standard asteroid and then later begin to morph and develop new activity (such as tails)  specific to comets. Astronomers and scientists have yet to tell us how or why this may be happening within the walls of our solar system.  

 What’s the difference between a comet and an asteroid? Tim Childers from Live Science tells us that comets are known as a dirty space snowball, made of mostly ice and dust. As comets tend to have a more stable orbit. Whereas asteroids are known as the rocky and airless leftovers from the formation of plants in our solar system. Asteroids mostly orbit around the sun in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. 1 

While the ATLAS telescope has discovered more than 40 cometsthis particular discovery of the 2019 LD2  is quite interesting because of the way that it orbits. This begs the question; Why is the orbit of this object extraordinary? Writers at NASA answered; The early indication that it was an asteroid near Jupiter’s orbit has now been confirmed through precise measurements from many different observations. This hybrid orbits in the same area that Jupiter does, implying that it may be part of the Jupiter’s trojans; a group of asteroids that share the same orbit as Jupiter. This was initially proven to be false by Sam Deen and Tony Dunn on the Minor planet Mailing List on May 21st, 2020. But after further observation it’s been determined that 2019 LD2 is part of Jupiter’s Trojans, it just exhibits different behaviors never seen before because it spewing out dust and gas which are characteristics of a comet. 

 As new observations are being conducted to try to figure out what actually happened. The only thing I am certain of is that the universe is full of big surprises. Even explorations to warn us of possible dangerous asteroids leaves us with many unexpected treasures that are harmless but incredibly fascinating objects that teach us more about the history of our solar system.  

 

 

  1. Childers, T. (2019, September 04).What’s the Difference Between Asteroids, Comets and Meteors? Retrieved October/November, 2020, from https://www.livescience.com/difference-between-asteroids-comets-and-meteors.html 

 

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Career Spotlight Booklet Series
For: Students For: Teachers/Parents

Career Spotlight Booklet Series

The first booklet in the Career Spotlight Series - Women in Science, has been completed. The Career Spotlight Series is directed at young girls in Junior and Senior High Schools and will be distributed to various schools and teachers’ conferences in the Atlantic Provinces. The aim of the Career Spotlight Series is to showcase the variety of careers available in the STEM fields.

The first booklet features a diverse group of women working in Geology, Molecular Microbiology, Physics, Marine Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Biology.  This is the first in the series of four booklets.  The next career booklet will come out in the fall of 2020 and will shine the spotlight on Engineers.  The following years will feature women in Information Technology and Math and Aboriginal STEM professionals.

Find the Women in Science booklet on our resources page! 

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All News

Girls Conference 2020
For: Students

Girls Conference 2020

On Friday March 6th 2020, the Alexa McDonough Institute for Women, Gender, and Social Justice at Mount Saint Vincent University will being holding the 2020 Girls Conference in celebration of International Women's Day.

The conference is for junior and senior high school girls from across the province, with workshops and presentations for participants to attend. The conference will be held at Mount Saint Vincent University with the theme Courageous, Creative, Confident.

WISEatlantic will be holding the “Game of Life” workshop where participants will have the opportunity to explore the realities of the working world as you get assigned a career and have to create a budget based on your given salary. Have fun choosing a home, car, pets, etc. all while sticking to a budget! Just like in the real world, life events can either add to your life or throw you into the deep end. In this life simulator, you will experience the ups-and-downs of the working world and attempt to come out on top. Do you think you’re ready for the “Game of Life”?

 

To learn more and register visit: https://www.msvu.ca/en/home/research/chairs/centresandinstitutes/IWGSJ/Events/girls2020/default.aspx

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STEMaware 2019
For: Teachers/Parents

STEMaware 2019

Another Successful STEMaware event took place on November. 5th, 2019 at Mount Saint Vincent University.

WISEatlantic hosted our third annual STEMaware event, which aims to connect High School girls and current Mount Saint Vincent University science students with past Bachelor of Science alumni. Many students are not necessarily aware of what they can do with their education, post-graduation. Nineteen students, ranging from grade nine to fourth year university, got to chat with Bachelor of Science graduates about their career paths and what they are using their degree’s for. Among our graduates were Nicole Snow, a genetic counsellor, Jessica Romo, an environmental scientist, Courtney Masey, a registered dietician, Holly Cook, a Chemistry and Physics laboratory technician, and Giovanni Johnson, a microbiologist and entrepreneur.

Mount Saint Vincent University recruitment was also in attendance and managed a booth during the event.

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Another Successful Senior Summer Camp!
For: Teachers/Parents

Another Successful Senior Summer Camp!

Last week, WISEatlantic held their third Senior Girls Get WISE Science Summer Camp. The four-day event exposed a group of high school girls to a variety of STEM careers. While they got to participate in plenty of hands-on activities, they also got a taste of what university life is like.

The girls shook off those first-day jitters by participating in a group challenge to create windmills that lift tea-bags off the ground as they spin – the least amount of materials, the better. They explored the concept of regeneration by working with planaria, a flatworm species that has the ability to grow back missing parts of their bodies, or even create whole new beings from smaller pieces. The girls tried their hands at drone building, to a variety of success, but had a thrilling time getting them to fly. They left the lab smelling beautiful by making soap with the Laughing Pear Soap Company; they even got to bring some sweet-smelling soap home! Each girl also had the chance to create their own website using HTML and CSS coding with Code Mobile.

In addition to participating in these activities, they got to learn about some unique career options. The girls got the opportunity to talk to a pediatric resident at the IWK who, alongside her hours at the hospital, is conducting specialized research that the girls were able to participate in. They got to visit the campus beehive and learn about the amazing world of beekeeping, as well as trying some delicious honey! They also explored how StatsCan aids in spreading real statistical data on a variety of subjects by creating their own visual representations of data related to a topic they were interested in.

The girls got to go on a campus tour where their burning questions surrounding what university life is like were answered. Spending time on campus was a new thing for a lot of the girls and as they start thinking about their post-secondary education, exploring what the Mount has to offer was a fun and inspiring opportunity. They also got to visit the Mount garden, which gave them a peaceful end to a jam-packed week of hands-on fun!

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CAGIS - Monthly Science Club for Girls
For: Students For: Teachers/Parents

CAGIS - Monthly Science Club for Girls

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 

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Antigonish Area Girls Participate in Girls Get WISE Science Retreat
For: Teachers/Parents For: Women in SETT

Antigonish Area Girls Participate in Girls Get WISE Science Retreat

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.

 

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STEMaware 2018
For: Students For: Teachers/Parents For: Women in SETT

STEMaware 2018

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:

  • Cynthia Johnston, Quality Leader at the Regional Tissue Bank
  • Erica Fraser, Microbrewer and Biology Lab Instructor
  • Tanya Cole, Registered Dietitian
  • Lauren Harrie, Bone Marrow Transplant Specialist
  • Frank MacDonald, Family Physician
  • Alyssa Doue, Chemistry Lab Instructor

Written by Emily Albert, WISEatlantic Volunteer and Mount student.

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Out of This World!
For: Students For: Teachers/Parents For: Women in SETT

Out of This World!

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.

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Girls Get WISE 2018
For: Students For: Teachers/Parents

Girls Get WISE 2018

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!

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NS Aboriginal Youth Participate in Explore STEM
For: Students For: Teachers/Parents

NS Aboriginal Youth Participate in Explore STEM

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’.

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