Session 3C: Advocating with Impact

Outreach: More than Kids

Time and Date: 3:00-4:00 PM on Saturday May 6th
Session Type: Panel
Panelists: Sheryl Staub-French (Moderator), Sandy Eix, Michael Unger, Tina Strehlke, Melisa Yestrau and Rachel Schoeler

To inspire and engage the next generation of scientists, engineers and tech entrepreneurs, involvement in outreach is essential. Parents, teachers and mentors have the greatest impact on whether kids choose to pursue STEM and therefore they play a critical role in outreach. Educating adults in the fields of science, engineering and technology will not only provide better role models for the next generation but also lead to a shift in the societal perception of who is capable of being leaders and succeeding in STEM. How do you use outreach activities to make STEM accessible to everyone, no matter their educational background or age? How do you break the stereotype that suggests math and science are difficult, boring or better suited for men and boys? This session is targeted at outreach groups looking to expand their audience to adults and STEM professionals who want to become involved in outreach. 

Sheryl Staub-French is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and the Goldcorp Professor for Women in Engineering at the University of British Columbia.  Sheryl leads a targeted recruitment strategy for UBC Engineering that plans to increase the number of women enrolled in its programs from the national average of 20% to 50% by 2020.  She established the eng•cite engineering outreach program to get girls engaged and excited about engineering. Eng•cite works with teachers, counsellors, parents and high school students to promote engineering education, and to provide mentorship and role models to encourage girls and young women to pursue engineering careers.  Sheryl is also the Director of the BIM Topics Lab where she leads research focused on understanding and improving best practices for the delivery of sustainable building construction projects through effective and collaborative use of building information modeling (BIM).  In her spare time, she plays lego, soccer and beam ball with her kids.

Sandy Eix has a BSc in Physics from Waterloo, a BEd from Queen’s, and an MSc and PhD in Physics from SFU. She has been inventing exhibits, programs, and shows at Science World for 20 years.  Her job lets her play with all sorts of science and share her discoveries with kids of all ages. Some highlights so far have included developing exhibitions about fuel cells, pop music, and the art and science of light; running a summer camp for teachers; creating science resources for preschoolers; training science centre professionals in Turkey; and taking a course about tinkering. When she’s not thinking about science education, she applies her curious mind to snowboarding, Cape Breton fiddle music, navigating East Vancouver by bicycle, and learning to speak French. She explores the world with her husband and daughter, and has recently learned to call herself a “maker”.

Michael Unger is the Program Coordinator at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver, where he’s been as astronomy educator for 8 years. Amongst the many programs he manages is the popular adult-only evening series called Cosmic Nights, which provides a party type atmosphere to science shows and lectures. He co-manages a bar lecture series called Nerd Nite which is held monthly at the Fox Cabaret. Nerd Nite is a low key event which not only provides a safe stage for people to present science and non-science passions, but also a regular venue for people to learn outside of traditional institutions in a social atmosphere.  He’s also on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge where he runs the outreach award, which gives University students real world experience in the space satellite industry. He is addicted to cheese, pinball, and Alfred Hitchock movies.

Tina Strehlke is Programs Director at Minerva, a charitable foundation that elevates the visibility, influence and contribution of women to change the face of leadership in BC. Prior to joining Minerva in 2016, Tina was the Vice President of HR and Communications for a B.C. based training and consulting company that specializes in career development.

At Minerva, Tina spends her days researching, developing and enhancing and continuum of training and initiatives to help women and girls achieve their full potential. Much of this work focuses on values-based leadership and exploring different perspectives of what it means to be a leader in business, community and life. 

Tina holds a Master’s Degree in Communications from Royal Roads University and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from University of British Columbia. Tina lives in Burnaby with her husband and two young daughters.

Melisa Yestrau: For over 12 years, Melisa has been actively engaged in STEM education in Manitoba and British Columbia.  Before moving to Victoria, she completed a BSc. and Masters of Environment at the University of Manitoba, focusing on environmental education, community resilience, and experiential learning.   Through work and volunteer experience at various youth programs including Mini-U, Career Trek, the Harvest Moon Society, and WISE Kid-Netic Energy, Melisa has become a passionate educator and leader in STEM outreach.

Since 2009, Melisa has worked for the University of Victoria as the Director of Science Venture — a program that inspires youth to reach their potential and discover their vital role in the world through life changing science, technology, engineering, and math experiences.  As an active member of the Actua Network, she has represented Science Venture at national meetings and facilitated workshops on community engagement, risk management for youth camps, girls in STEM and Aboriginal youth programming.  Melisa is committed to making STEM accessible to ALL youth and is actively contributing to building community capacity to support positive and innovative learning environments for our youth.

Rachel Schoeler is Manager of The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, a joint conservation initiative between the Vancouver Aquarium and WWF Canada. The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup aims to promote understanding of shoreline litter issues by engaging Canadians to rehabilitate shorelines areas (from storm drains and roadside ditches to rivers, creeks, lakes and ocean) through cleanups.

Rachel received her B.Sc in Natural Resources Conservation from the University of British Columbia and has been working in the environmental non-profit sector ever since. Prior to working with The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup team she worked with the Stanley Park Ecology Society, Fraser Riverkeeper and She is a dedicated water advocate standing up for our natural right to swimmable water and clean shorelines through work and volunteer opportunities as well as sport. In 2014 she swam over 30km across the Georgia Strait to raise awareness about swimmable water in Vancouver and surrounding areas.