The in-person events have been suspended, but momentum’s still propelling the larger ideas forward.
In March, around 70 North Shore students gathered in North Vancouver for the first Teen Nerd Nite.
The event, co-organized by Carson Graham Secondary student Romina Mahinpei, was intended to help young people explore the fascinating world of STEM and possibly change their perspective on what they might have beforehand felt was a stodgy, inaccessible subject.
During the one-day event’s series of dazzling experiments, showcases and talks concerning the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, senses were certainly heightened and perceptions changed.
But then, of course, COVID-19 happened and the whole world changed as well.
Even with B.C. students slated to return to the classroom next month, Mahinpei and co-founder Crystal Baldwin have opted to run the second iteration of Teen Nerd Nite virtually – and in doing so, hope to expand the scope of the program into the outer reaches. Or, at least, throughout the rest of the province.
“With the situation right now we couldn’t do an in-person event but we didn’t want that to stop us from introducing students to the world of STEM,” says Mahinpei, who’s set to begin her first year at UBC in the Faculty of Science next month. “We’ve basically compiled a bunch of resources and made them available to students.”
Organizers have launched a new website (www.teennerdnite.wordpress.com) which offers B.C. high school students a host of resources – from finding a STEM-themed post-secondary scholarship to STEM career videos recorded by university professors and researchers outlining their career and educational journeys.
“There are going to be students this year in Grade 12 who will have to make important decisions in regards to their post-secondary,” says Mahinpei.
Perhaps most impressively, the new online version of Teen Nerd Nite features a four-week mentoring program, according to Mahinpei, whereby consenting students across the province will be connected with a STEM mentor, such as a professor or graduate student, via an email conversation with weekly prompts.
“It will be a weekly email conversation, each week will have a theme, and students will be able to ask any questions they may have,” she says.
The goal of Teen Nerd Nite from the beginning has been to showcase how accessible STEM really is for high school students – it’s not necessarily the stuff of geniuses, but rather, a slice of the everyday, she adds.
“Something as simple as the moon coming up at night – there’s science to everything,” says Mahinpei. “No matter who are, science and STEM will be applicable to your life.”