York grad student receives volunteer award for spreading science

York PhD student Chris Chen has received a national volunteer award from CurioCity for his work on behalf of the organization last year. CurioCity is a web-based presence that promotes science literacy to high school students and is affiliated with Let’s Talk Science.

Let’s Talk Science is an award-winning, national, charitable organization focused on education and outreach to support youth development in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). They have many chapters in universities across the country and provide leadership opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students.

Chris Chen, PhD student

Chris Chen

“Students generally perform outreach activities in nearby communities promoting science literacy and STEM engagement,” says Chen. “Outreach visits can go from kindergarten to grade 12 students. Both youth and University students benefit from these activities through experiential learning, applying what they learn in the classroom to fun engaging activities to their everyday lives.”

York’s, Let’s Talk Science chapter is supported by the Faculty of Science: outreach.letstalkscience.ca/yorku.html. Chen is currently completing his fifth year of his doctorate in the Graduate Program in Kinesiology and Health Science.

He first got involved in the organization while completing his master’s degree at the University of Toronto (UofT). “I volunteered at UofT for two years visiting schools and performing outreach activities (including giving a presentation at the Toronto Zoo). I have been with Let’s Talk Science for seven years but only started working with CurioCity since 2013.”

“CurioCity’s website is entirely free and available for high school educators to use in their courses. As a volunteer, I write and explain scientific topics in an accessible way for both students and the public to understand.

“I started at CurioCity mainly because of its online involvement. As I started my PhD at York, I had less time to volunteer and visit classrooms. When I first started at CurioCity, I was also an article editor, ensuring that articles met submission standards. I reviewed about 20 articles during my time at CurioCity. In 2016, I decided to change my role as a writer and wrote 3 articles for CurioCity related to my PhD work,” he says.

The award citation states: “Long-time Let’s Talk Science volunteer Chris was one of CurioCity’s most frequent contributors in 2016. His articles cover a wide range of interesting topics in biology. Chris is passionate about promoting STEM literacy and continues to embrace new techniques to make his writing accessible to teens. Chris’ work has made it offline, as well. The CurioCity editing team is using an excerpt from his article Autophagy: When your body eats itself in a writing workshop as an example of how to explain scientific concepts through analogy.”

Further information on CurioCity and their STEM resources can be found on their website: explorecuriocity.org/.

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