On a recent chemistry outreach trip, Inuit student Chaim Andersen took the Grenfell Campus Chemistry Outreach program to Jens Havens Memorial School in her home community of Nain.
"I feel it is important to give back to my community and my people, and this is one way of doing so," said Ms. Andersen, who travelled with fellow student Yu-Ru Lee and Dr. Geoff Rayner-Canham, professor of chemistry.
Ms. Andersen, who is pursuing an environmental science degree specializing in chemistry at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University, gave the presentations. Ms. Lee, from Taiwan, also an environmental science student, performed the demonstrations, while Dr. Rayner-Canham organized the logistics.
To show the relevance of chemistry to northern peoples, the presentations began with the topic of how much chemistry relates to traditional Inuit life and culture. In fact, Ms. Andersen is working this year with Dr. Rayner-Canham to explore this link and to produce a resource that can be used for teaching chemistry in Nunatsiavut schools.
The next part of the outreach involved demonstrations by Ms. Lee of new chemical materials that will be changing our lives. To show chemistry doesn't just happen in chemistry labs, Ms. Andersen and Ms. Lee illustrated the chemistry of consumer products, including foods. The last segment was devoted to environmental chemistry, especially an example of reusing waste materials.
"Inuit people have been one with nature for tens of thousands of years," said Ms. Andersen. "Knowledge of chemistry will help us understand and cope with the environmental changes already impacting us."
Finally, students were invited to participate in groups, so they could get some hands-on experience.
"I am hoping our chemistry outreach will inspire many more Inuit students, especially girls, to come to university, gain degrees, and be able to make significant contributions to the people of Nunatsiavut and to Canada," said Ms. Andersen. She especially supports coming to Grenfell with the small class sizes and the opportunity to converse with one's professors.
In addition to the day at Nain, the chemistry outreach trio presented at the schools in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Northwest River and Mud Lake.
"Chaim and Yu-Ru were a perfect team," said Dr. Rayner-Canham. "We are really thankful to the Chemical Institute of Canada, Esteem Women N&L, Vale Inc., the Nunatsiavut Government, and Memorial University, who together supplied the funding for this incredibly worthwhile endeavour."
Caption-inset photo: Yu-Re Lee performing a captivating demonstration of new chemical materials to the Grade 2 class at Jens Havens Memorial School, Nain, while Ms. Andersen talks through what is happening.
Caption- main photo: Yu-Re Lee performing a captivating demonstration of new chemical materials to the Grade 2 class at Jens Havens Memorial School, Nain, while Ms. Andersen talks through what is happening.