By Ryan Dahlman
Praxis Science Outreach Society has helped laid the foundation and helped, at minimum, interest in science in young southeast Alberta region minds through science fairs, discussions, guest speakers and other events.
June 18, the local Praxis group set up tables, complete with displays and many experiments with volunteers helping out curious and budding young scientists with the area and have been a major compliment to science-based programs. It was set up outside at the Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede grounds near the main administrative office.
It is something to be proud of for the area’s chapter of Praxis Alberta. Patty Rooks, Senior Scientific Consultant for the Praxis Science Outreach Society was thrilled with how the event unfolded during a very event filled weekend.
“It was steady, it wasn’t super crowded,” said Rooks knowing they had a lot of room and space to work with being outdoors. “I think that’s where people are at right now, kinda open like that and not shoulder to shoulder. We were busy. To be honest I am still recovering from running around from the weekend. I didn’t sit down all day. The people who were there (loved it). I had one parent come to me saying we were coming to stay for ten minutes and we’ve been here two hours already. Just comments like that, it was just fantastic the children and students were engaged and the adults alike. That made it all worthwhile.”
For Rooks to say she was running is quite the statement and her schedule is generally full anyway. is busy. She is also the Science Outreach Coordinator in the Division of Health and Science for the Medicine Hat College and is a trustee for the Prairie Rose Public Schools board (Ward 5-Whitla).
Rooks explained the planning process for the event took about a year. A lot of the activities, Rooks selected she did so with having some of them being able to be packaged in a bag and then the participant could take them home and do them there. There was a mixture of old favourite and new experiments.
But for the ones that were there, Rooks goal was to have experiments people could be engaged with and enjoy doing, something memorable. She used the example of Van de Graaff (electrostatic) generator which, when touched, makes a person’s hair stand up on end without of course harming the participant, the boom hackers which make music, a stethoscope and the elephant toothpaste explosion to name a few.
While the goal for June 18 was to celebrate and have fun, Praxis ’ goal has always been to educate but more importantly stimulate mind and create interest in doing more science based activities. The key is to show that science’s importance in every day lives.
“We want to make science easy and accessible for everybody,” explained Rooks. “It was like wee packaged the materials up (last Saturday), People will see these hard experiments online and will go ‘oh, we can get these materials, they come from specialty stores and that’s where I love to adapt them and hands on and easy to get for teachers and students alike.”
“We made a difference in so many students lives and that’s where we needed a legacy fund.”
Rooks points to the fact that they have had so many former students and participants come back and want to help out. Many of them have science based employment. The comments from these volunteers who come back that Rooks gets is so worthwhile.
“I want to mentor those Grade 9 girls or those Grade 9 boys and be a judge in a science fair because someone (from Praxis) made difference in my life. That’s a testament to what Praxis does for the people here and just making science exciting and accessible. I had other kids come up to me and say ‘this is so much fun. I haven’t done too much science before.’ They don’t even realize they are doing science. It reinforces the idea that science can be fun. You don’t have to love it like I do, but it is part of our lives.”