Hands-on learning for Paskwa students at synchrotron
- NC Raine | December 04, 2017
One of Canada's premier science facilities is encouraging Saskatchewan youth to get excited about science.
The Canadian Light Source (CLS), also known as 'the synchrotron', located in Saskatoon, is offering a light source student experience, in which high school students may conduct experiments at CLS using soil or food samples collected by the students themselves. The hands-on experiments aim to motivate young minds to start thinking about science in new ways.
“We want to inspire students to go into science,” said Dr. Robert Blyth, Science Projects Manager at CLS.
“Rather than us simply taking their samples and analyzing them, which isn't a lot of un, [...] students are able to do a lot of hands-on stuff at one of the most exciting science facilities in the country.”
Students get first hand knowledge on practical information like how human activity might affect the chemistry of soil, or how soil composition might affect the chemical composition of coffee beans.
And for First Nations students, the scientists at CLS believe Indigenous students offer a special perspective valuable to the world of science.
“From our perspective, science is a big problem-solving exercise,” says Blyth. “You want people who have a different perspective, a different way of looking at the world, different languages, and different cultures.”
With so few Indigenous students entering a science related post-secondary field of study, Blyth says a whole worldview is missing in science.
“Any First Nation that practices a lot of traditional culture, students develop pretty much all the hand skills one needs to be an experimental scientist,” he says. “We'd like them to become part of this great human endeavour called science, and bring their way of looking at the world.”
Grade 9 and 10 students from Chief Paskwa School at Pasqua First Nation were treated to a full tour of the facility and opportunity to conduct experiments on soil brought from their First Nation.
“It doesn't seem as complicated as it did to me before,” said Jordan Redcalf, grade 9 student from Chief Paskwa School. “It's more fun doing hands-on experiments, and helps me remember what we learned.”
The students from Pasqua First Nation were also given a peek into the office of Dean Chapman - Science Director at CLS and member of Cheyenne and Arapaho First Nation – a discovery which a couple of the students called “inspirational.”
“That was one of those very special moments,” said Blyth. “You can almost see people's view of the world change right there.”