Students experiment during Science Literacy Week

By: Max Ciarmela and Luke Bellus

Robotics, gene testing, DNA extraction, ice cream prepared instantly with liquid nitrogen – those are a few of the interactive activities Ryerson offered during the countrywide event known as Science Literacy Week.

Science Literacy Week kicked off Tuesday at the Student Learning Centre and has showcased experiments and hands-on science activities from different fields of scientists.

“Ryerson is really one of the bright lights as far as universities go in Canada for science outreach generally,” said Jesse Hildebrand, who founded Science Literacy Week in April of 2014. “(Ryerson) has a huge commitment from (its) science faculty and the university admin to promote science in a way that is fun and engaging.”

Science Literacy Week ends Sept. 23.
(Photo by Sophie Armstrong)

Ryerson’s course unions teamed up with SciXchance, a school-run organization, to put on the event. It ends Friday.

Ryerson’s SciXchange co-ordinator, Leigh Paulseth, said the organization uses local, national and international collaborations to increase science literacy with inclusive demonstrations.

“Science Literacy Week is as all about encouraging everyone to be more knowledgeable about science,” said Paulseth. “I think that’s really important because some of the biggest challenges society faces right now are science-based.

All events were open to students, staff and the public, who were welcome to ask questions of faculty and science students. Those who attended included many high school students.

One of those was Andrew Fryer, a Grade 11 student from Dunbarton High School in Pickering, Ont.

“We were in a lecture on detecting gravitational waves and applying physics to virus modelling and how viruses reproduce,” said Fryer. “I want to go into computer engineering, computer science or software engineering and the whole experience is a good way to explore my interests.”

But Nancy Vuong, a volunteer from the Canadian Blood Services, said getting people engaged in science wasn’t the only priority this week. There were also stations focused around health.

“Most people that came here didn’t know their blood type,” said Vuong. “It’s a very short process. It takes two minutes and can be very helpful in emergency situations.”

It’s the wide range of resources and activities reaching such a large audience that makes Hildebrand, the program’s founder, so excited to have Ryerson as a part of the event.

“(Ryerson) has done a brilliant job of extending beyond the ivory tower to really reach everyday people,” said Hildebrand.

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