By Anna Smith
As Praxis Science Outreach Society still celebrates their 30 year anniversary, they look forward to another year of inspiring a love of discovery in children.
Patty Rooks, a senior scientific consultant at Praxis, says that the celebrations this year have been wonderful in bringing new faces in to look at what resources the society has to offer for teachers.
“I’ve seen lots of new names of teachers that haven’t gotten things in the past, that would like to use them now. And that’s great,” said Rooks. “Getting the word out about practice is wonderful, through these large scale celebrations like this, to showcase what we do, and how we can help the community.”
Already, Praxis has been hard at work planning to fill the school year and beyond with events to help kids find their passion for science, and hopefully see themselves in STEM professionals in the community.
“The next big event we’re planning and it’s coming up here at the end of October, where you are really crossing our fingers hoping we can return to an in person Family Science Olympics,” said Rooks. “Now this has really been one of Praxis’ signature events, we’ve held it since our inception, it was kind of the one of the first things that did kick us off in science outreach here, and we’re looking to partner with students at Medicine Hat College again and have it at the college.”
The free event is a chance for families to come out and engage with hands-on science activities, said Rooks, as well as an opportunity for the college students.
“It’s a great opportunity for the education students at the college to showcase their hands-on science activities that they’ll be doing with their classes, once they go out into the classroom,” said Rooks. “So that’s what’s really exciting for me is that it’s not just an assignment to do something that’s not going to be beneficial to them. But these are things that are going to really help their career and they’re going to have in their back pockets, and for their students when they’re out teaching in the classroom. So that really just excites me about this project.”
The Olympics has been virtual the past few years, but Rooks is hopeful that this year will have a return to form and get families out to see the projects with their own eyes instead of through screens.
“We don’t have a date yet, but we are looking to have our regional science fair in the spring, again,” said Rooks. “The Canada Wide Science Fair has already been set for May. So we really want to gear students up to get working on those projects and get them to all polish up for a regional fair.”
Rooks would like to remind teachers that Praxis is also happy to come out and assist in getting kids prepared for the regional fair, from as little as talking to them to sitting down and talking students through the process of coming up with ideas and making them a reality.
“We’re here to meet the needs of the students and the teachers, just so we can get those students that are interested in science and, and sometimes, you know, not everyone excels in the classroom and this is a way for some students to shine. It’s amazing the curiosity and the ingenuity we have in the students in our area,” said Rooks.
Another project that Praxis is moving forward with this year, and was fortunate to get some funding for, is their Project Minerva, which aims to help inspire girls into pursuing STEM fields.
“This is a program to keep girls interested in science. And to really showcase the amazing female STEM professionals we have in southeast Alberta,” said Rooks. “We’re hoping that businesses will open up and we can have probably the most popular part of the day where the girls go with mentors, female STEM professionals, out at their jobs, they shouldn’t just be engineers or nurses, doctors. You know, we have biologists that are doing research field studies out in the field. You know, it’s amazing who we have in our community and that untapped knowledge and wealth that we need to share with the girls.”
Part of Rooks’ passion for this project is to also help keep our communities viable, as it shows young women opportunities that exist right here in Southeastern Alberta.
“Let’s show the girls that live in our communities, what’s here if they want to work and have a career,” said Rooks. “They don’t necessarily have to move to Toronto or Vancouver to have a great paying stem profession. They’re here in southeast Alberta, we’re just not in our face.”
“ This year we’ve established our Legacy Fund this year, through our 30th year anniversary, and we’re getting a few donations that we took the Community Foundation of southeast Alberta, so just really making our presence known that we’re here and we want to be here for at least 30 more years, to help our community and, and the youth in it and showcase the talent we have,” said Rooks.