Meet Your Let's Talk Science Volunteers
by Maureen Paisley
posted 23 September 2011

Let’s Talk Science is an award-winning, national, charitable organization that delivers science learning programs to children and youth.  It aims to keep them engaged in learning and develop their potential to become 21st century citizens, innovators and stewards.

The Faculty of Science supports the Let's Talk Science program at the University of Manitoba, and encourages students to volunteer.  Spread the love and enjoyment of science, and meet other Faculty of Science students in a fun and supportive environment.  Consider becoming a Let's Talk Science volunteer.

Here's what some of the 2010/2011 volunteers had to say about their experiences.

Rick Damsel

The first time I had heard about the LTS program was through some friends. My friends and I do this thing where we tell each other “I’ll go if you go,” and we only go to an activity or event if at least one other person goes. Things are always easier with a friend, and that’s what gave me the extra push. Maybe the free pizza had something to do with it, but the point is,  I was able to attend the Meet and Greet event which kicked off one of the most memorable years of my life.

After the first few activities, I found myself participating in an activity in Beausejour MB. It was during these presentations to kids in the classrooms where I noticed how comfortable I felt in front of a group,  and  it marked a turning point for me as a person. My public speaking skills and enthusiasm started to show.

Big events such as the mall outreaches and group meetings, allowed me to overcome my usual quiet self, and I was able to meet great people. It may have been the feeling of satisfaction of passing on knowledge to the future scientists of the world, the socialization, or maybe the wide-eyed faces children make when they discover a glob of DNA for the first time. It could be the feeling of being able to help steer someone in a positive direction or help pick up someone who’s feeling down.

There was one instance during my year of volunteering, where a student was extremely nervous and felt her science fair project was horrible due to a previous judge’s comments. I made her feel better by telling her about my major science screw ups, and assured her that making mistakes was probably what got science to what it is today. I was able to give her suggestions on how to improve and praised her on what she did well on. She was able to leave that day feeling happy.

Faisal Haji

I met Melissa Bailey, a UofM, LTS site co-coordinator, in a first year biology lab when she spoke about the Meet and Greet event to recruit volunteers. I was definitely excited about LTS, and after the Meet and Greet session, I had many expectations about volunteering. It sounded like the perfect avenue for me to be creative, to be a leader, and to be a mentor.

With every LTS activity, I learned something new, both academically and socially. In the LTS activity training sessions, I learned about physics, engineering, chemistry, thermodynamics and had fun teaching and demonstrating the activities to children ranging from kindergarten to high school.

I learned that every child has his/her own unique personality and way of grasping new ideas. My respect for their little minds grew when I found them working around challenges and I was astonished by their thirst for knowledge. At times, I was very jealous for not having volunteers come to my school and put  on a science show that was entertaining and exciting.

I was always looking forward to volunteering for more activities. It brought me to tears when I returned to the same class for another activity and the children welcomed me and called me: “here is the strawberry DNA guy!”.

Of course, non of this would happen if we - the volunteers - didn’t have such great support from the community around us. LTS is a community to me, people of many backgrounds, ages, and faculties came together to help promote science literacy in Winnipeg and Manitoba.

Also, the coordinators and the LTS site members were welcoming, supportive, and thoughtful. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to accomplish much.

Since I was encouraged by the coordinators to try new things, I was able to come up with new activities such as an ecosystems and the theory of particles activities. For their support, I am grateful.

Finally, the Faculty of Science and its departments were welcoming us when we needed them, for instance, if I required more information about chemistry, then the Department of Chemistry had great instructors who were willing to help out. Overall, LTS helped me improve me as a person, by giving me a boost in confidence and allowing me to discover my abilities to be creative.

Billy Nguyen

This year was my first year with LTS. I had so much fun and literally couldn’t stop participating in activities. I have so many great memories from this program.

One of my favourites was when a few of us were doing the Bright Lights kit and we were scheduled for an hour and half to work with the kids, but asked if we could stay for an extra 45 minutes to finish up every activity in the kit, because we were having so much fun and the kids were really eager to learn more.

I will never forget the joy it brought me to see kids learning science with big smiles. I will definitely join LTS again next year.

Kelsey Uminski

Science teaches us how to ask questions, to observe and to evaluate evidence. The ability to learn through experimentation has been one of the reasons why I have always been so fascinated with science. This past year, I have had the one of my most rewarding experiences with the Let’s Talk Science (LTS) program by being able to go into classrooms and share my own passion for science with others and inspire the next generation of scientists.

As someone coming from a scientifically keen family, I have been extremely fortunate to have gained exposure to science at a very young age and have had great role models to encourage me in my own discoveries. I recall the moment where I truly felt like a scientist was when I got my very first chemistry kit. The ability to create various bubbling, slimey mixtures and get messy marked the beginning of my fascination with science.

Over the course of my life I have learned how important strong role models and leaders are for the development of youth, and it was my hope that through volunteering with LTS I could help youth achieve their full potential in the sciences.

Being able to promote hands-on experiments and present science activities in a format that is accessible to students has been an extremely gratifying experience. Working with students and witnessing first hand how excited they get when they participate in the experiments has had a profound and memorable effect on me.  It has strengthened my commitment to encourage youth to study science, and I look forward to future endeavours with LTS!


Meet Janet Yuen: LTS Coordinator 

Let's Talk Science 

2010 Meet and Greet

Rick Damsel
Volunteer of the Year - 2011

Faisal Haji
Volunteer of the Year - 2011

Billy Nguyen
Volunteer of the Year - 2011

Kelsey Uminski
Volunteer of the Year 2011

Strawberry DNA extration at the Polo Park Mall Outreach

Working with young children at the Polo Park Mall