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Dr. Bonnie Schmidt, Let's Talk Science

Dr. Bonnie Schmidt

President & Founder, Let’s Talk Science

Let’s Talk Science opens students’ eyes to the breadth of STEM careers available and offers enriching opportunities for post-secondary students.

In a world propelled by rapid technological advancements that are driving significant transformation in every field, the career landscape for young people today is quite different from the one we might have encountered in our own youth. Research shows that many children now entering primary school will ultimately work in a job that doesn’t exist today. This presents many opportunities, but also many challenges.

Preparing youth for an ever-changing world

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills are inherently transferable and are critical for success in this dynamic landscape. Let’s Talk Science, an award-winning charitable organization, has provided engaging, evidence-based STEM programs for more than 25 years at no cost to Canadian youth and educators. In doing so, it’s helping students build the skills they need for their future and for Canada’s future success.

“Our focus is on helping to prepare young people from early childhood to grade 12 with the kinds of skills and attributes they need for a changing world — for both the jobs of the future and citizenship demands,” says Dr. Bonnie Schmidt, President and Founder of Let’s Talk Science.

Using STEM to support learning and skill development, Let’s Talk Science offers programs, services, and resources that help educators and support children and youth in developing critical STEM skills, career awareness, and positive attitudes.

Creating opportunities with career awareness

Let’s Talk Science tackles key barriers to STEM engagement, including lack of career awareness and role models, and showcases the diverse career paths that are available to people with STEM skills.

Building awareness of emerging careers is a key focus for the organization. When people think of STEM career paths, they may picture traditional jobs like doctors, dentists, or science teachers. But these preconceived ideas don’t cover the breadth of opportunities that a path in STEM can provide.

“It’s important to expose young people to lots of diverse careers, and career awareness is really important to building their whole menu of opportunities,” says Dr. Schmidt. “That’s one of the reasons we’re doing Let’s Talk Careers, which is a national campaign that provides a competitive opportunity for young people to learn about different career options and to win cash prizes for themselves and their school.”

Making career discovery fun and engaging

Let’s Talk Careers, a partnership between Let’s Talk Science, ChatterHigh, and Skills Canada, helps students discover existing and emerging STEM careers. Students compete by exploring career, post-secondary, and labour market information resources in a daily quiz. “It’s a gamified opportunity and it’s lots of fun,” says Dr. Schmidt.

Let’s Talk Science’s platform features hundreds of interactive career profiles of Canadians employed in diverse STEM jobs. The career profiles are unlocking opportunities for youth, showing them what’s possible for themselves. “You have to see it to be it,” says Dr. Schmidt.

ChatterHigh’s research shows that the career profiles and Let’s Talk Careers campaign are having a positive impact on students’ awareness and interest. “We’ve found that it doesn’t take a lot to change a young person’s interest and intent to pursue a particular area, because for the most part, they’ve never heard of half of the careers that we’re presenting,” says Dr. Schmidt. “If they don’t know that something is possible, why would they start to dream about it?”

Skill-building programming to prepare youth for their future

Students engaged in Let’s Talk Science learning opportunities benefit from skill-building programs, which help them to become career-ready. It’s not just math and science, though. The organization believes it’s essential for youth to learn basic skills as well as STEM-specific skills.

“The transferable skills needed for every job are absolutely critical — things like team-building, critical thinking, and communication,” says Dr. Schmidt. “For us at Let’s Talk Science, having meaningful STEM-based programming can actually build those durable skills in addition to the more technical skills and knowledge we traditionally associate with science education.”

Let’s Talk Science also helps to guide careers in STEM for students in university, college, and the skilled trades. The organization’s Outreach Program creates meaningful experiential learning opportunities for post-secondary students that build transferable skills in preparation for successful early-stage careers.

Skill-building volunteer opportunities for post-secondary students

From supporting job readiness and awareness to building skills, Let’s Talk Science supports the continuum of STEM education. This extends to post-secondary students, who can benefit greatly from becoming part of the Let’s Talk Science family.

Each year, the organization mobilizes thousands of university and college students across Canada to volunteer at elementary and high school classrooms, libraries, community events, and more. Volunteers deliver meaningful hands-on and minds-on STEM learning experiences to children and youth, all while building their own employability skills.

“We’ve created a whole suite of professional development opportunities for our volunteers that help them build the kinds of skills that will help them in any job that they’ve got, whether that’s thinking about time management, communication, planning, Indigenous outreach, or diversity training,” says Dr. Schmidt.

Let’s Talk Science works with over 50 post-secondary institutions across Canada, so look for the organization at your school for an enriching volunteer opportunity.

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