A lot of learning

Muhammad Ahmed does chest compressions on a mannequin as registered nurses, Greg Heninger and Andromeda’s Deenen look on.

On April 6, Grade 8 and 9 male students from across southeast Alberta spent the day learning about various branches of science as they participated in Operation THOTH. 

Aptly named after the Egyptian God of wisdom and the moon, a deity whose name means ‘truth and time’ and who is believed to have been the inventor of astronomy, engineering, botany, geometry, and land surveying, the 30 students participating in Operation THOTH that the opportunity to learn about the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM subjects).

During the morning session, the students visited the nursing, paramedics, 3D printing, and biology departments, doing tours, participating in experiments like dissecting a sheep’s brain, and viewing displays. After lunch, the students visited Connectx (unmanned vehicle systems) and the labs at Methenex.

Patty Rooks, senior scientific consultant for Praxis Science Outreach Society, the host for the event, said the conference gives the students a chance to experience areas of Science that they may not have considered for a possible career path. 

“These are 30 students who may not have had the opportunity otherwise. It opens their eyes to what’s out there. These students can go back now and tell their teachers what they learned,” said Rooks. 

Rooks said Praxis receives funding for the conference every two or three years and has to limit the participation numbers to 30 students. Every school in the region has the opportunity to send two students and Rooks opens the event up to Grade 8 and 9 boys to accommodate the rural schools where grades are often doubled up. 

The purpose of Operation THOTH is to raise awareness to what is happening in the science world on a local level and the career opportunities that are available right here in southeast Alberta.

“We live in such a great place. We have amazing career opportunities right here with robotics and unmanned vehicles. If you love this area, you can come back after your education because there is lots happening here,” she said. “The opportunities that are out there are amazing.”

In addition to encouraging boys to consider science, technology, engineering, and math related careers, organizers are also hoping to inform parents, educators, and the public in the small number of boys choosing STEM courses and careers. As well, the conference hopes to dispel myths and stereotypes by showing the students science and technology can be interesting. 

Everett Van Tryp, who attends St. Michael’s School in Bow Island, said the whole conference was interesting for him.

“This is very interesting and there is a lot to learn,” he said, adding that his favourite part was doing chest compressions on a mannequin in the nursing session. “Doing CPR on the mannequins was very interesting.”

Fellow Bow Island student Kai Uchikura, who attends Senator Gershaw School, also liked learning how to do CPR and learning how to remove a patient from a building where the patient is on an upper level. 

“I liked learning how to do CPR the best and learning what to do when you have to take somebody down a flight of stairs to a gurney,” said Uchikura.

Registered nurse Travis Lukans told the students that while the mannequins and other equipment are being used by nursing and other medical staff, somebody who has an interest in robotics or, for instance, may pursue a career in developing new technology for the medical field.

Rooks said that anybody with an interest in science and math should be proud of it and the conference is a place where like-minded students can interact.

“If you have that interest, be proud of it. It’s an opportunity for those students to come together and connect with others who have the same passions and interests,” she said.

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