PhD student Gabriel Potvin’s passion for science, engineering and technology
Gabriel Potvin, a PhD student in chemical engineering, has received this year's Let's Talk Science National Volunteer Award. For the past three years, Gabriel has been volunteering with Let’s Talk Science helping to promote science and engineering in the region’s elementary and high schools.
Let’s Talk Science is a national organization that develops and delivers innovative science-based learning programs aimed at turning children and youth on to science, engineering and technology. With close to 3,000 volunteers throughout Canada, Let’s Talk Science requires all volunteers to do two presentations per year. However, Gabriel has done over 40 presentations since this past September! Gabriel has developed many activities and says he enjoys the challenge. “I’ve learned a lot by having to prepare activities, which are sometimes on topics I’m less familiar with so it pushes me to do more research.”
Gabriel has recently done presentations at West Carleton Secondary School and École élémentaire catholique Alain-Fortin, to name just a few of the schools where he has shared some of his knowledge and enthusiasm.
“What’s most rewarding for me is to talk to students who are really interested in learning more about science,” says Gabriel. “I’ve enjoyed getting the chance to invite two or three students to visit the lab where I work at uOttawa and to prepare activities based on their specific interests. It’s nice to have time with smaller groups because I get to pass on more in-depth information to students individually.”
But his volunteer work doesn’t end there. Gabriel has also volunteered with Science Travels, a science outreach program designed to share the knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm of university science graduate students with youth in remote and Aboriginal communities in northern Ontario. Gabriel traveled to both Nunavut and the Northwest Territories to pass on his passion and enthusiasm for engineering with youth, an experience he quite enjoyed.
Next year, Gabriel will be one of the coordinators responsible for the more than 300 Let’s Talk Science volunteers in Ottawa. “I would love to see the program expand and reach even more students,” he says. “I’ll continue to go into schools and give presentations because I love it.” And as for receiving this year’s Let’s Talk Science National Volunteer Award, Gabriel remains humble. “It’s not why I participate,” he says. “I’m proud and happy to be a part of such a great organization.”