Getting kids into STEM: Inuvik science educator gets national recognition

The Aurora Research Institute nominated Annika Trimble for the outreach work within schools and communities throughout the Beaufort Delta region.

Annika Trimble wins Canadian Association of Science Centres ‘Making a Difference’ award

Annika Trimble says she was surprised to receive a national award for her outreach work. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

Annika Trimble said she was surprised to find out she's been recognized nationally for what she does every day.

She recently won the "Making A Difference" Award from the Canadian Association of Science Centres.

She said she knows this award is usually given to individuals working in big science centres down south, so it was nice to be recognized for the work she does in Inuvik for the Aurora Research Institute.

"It's meant for people who are actually on the ground doing hands-on science or helping people learn," said Trimble.

"I feel very honoured to have this award from this national organization, but the feedback that I draw more value from is from the teachers or the students, and the schools that we're working with."

The Aurora Research Institute nominated Trimble for her outreach work within schools and communities throughout the Beaufort Delta region.

Daycare kids viewing the solar eclipse. Even at a young age, they learn how an eclipse works, and explore how it makes strange shadows. (Submitted by Aurora Research Institute)

Trimble has worked for the institute for more than 12 years, but her position as outreach co-ordinator is only three years old.

The program originally began because the institute, Let's Talk Science and the Beaufort Delta Education Council, wanted consistent STEM — or science, technology, engineering and math programming — in schools.

"[We wanted to] make sure that it wasn't just: 'here's some things we have to offer, you pick and choose,' but actually going to the teachers and being: 'what do you need?'"

Trimble said the program connects with youth from daycare age to college age.

Career fair students in Tuktoyaktuk try their hand at environmental monitoring activities. (Submitted by Aurora Research Institute)

She said in the future, her team hopes to increase the amount of programs they bring to the communities and add more family oriented programs.

Trimble said if the schools bring the kids out for some of their own programs, like going to a fish camp, the institute will also be out there trying to bring a STEM aspect to the kids learning.

Although Trimble could have received her award in person last week in Halifax, she decided to stay home because of a prior outreach commitment — the Science Rendezvous.

It's an event that's been going on in Inuvik for about five years, and involves different science-related organizations gathering at the school to showcase various hands-on activities.

Trimble said there was no question that she would be there for the event.

"The conference looked amazing but there was just no way … we had over 260 people come out," said Trimble.

"That's where I'd much rather be … and that's what it should be."