Meet Janet Yuen - Let's Talk Science Coordinator
Janet Yuen is a Faculty of Science student in her 4th year of the Microbiology Major program.  When she is not busy with her coursework, or working as a teaching assistant in the first-year chemistry labs, Janet is one of three coordinators for the Let’s Talk Science program.

What is Let’s Talk Science?

Let’s Talk Science (LTS) is a national, award-winning, charitable organization that strives to promote science literacy among children and youth in Canada through fun and exciting hands-on activities. The goal of the program is to turn children and youth on to science and post-secondary education.

How did you become involved in LTS?

Janet explains: “When I was in University 1, I hung out with my high school friends.  I really didn’t get to know other University students.  However, after first year, we all went separate ways to different faculties.”

Janet heard about the LTS program when David Tang, a former LTS coordinator, made a presentation in one of her classes.  LTS was looking for volunteers, and Janet thought it would be a great way to meet other students who shared her passion for Science and for working with children.

How did you become a coordinator?

“After volunteering with organizations on campus, I decided I would apply for a couple of the coordinating positions that became available in two organizations.  The LTS process was pretty rigorous with the 10-hour apprenticeship program that David developed.  The reason for the apprenticeship was so that applicants would have a good idea about what coordinating involved,” says Janet

Janet didn’t think she did very well in LTS interview, but she was very confident about the other coordinating position for which she had applied.  Much to her surprise, she didn’t get the position she was confident about, and she was very disappointed.  When she saw that she had a message from David Tang on her phone, she was afraid to call him back; she really didn’t want to deal with more bad news.

Much to her surprise, she was offered a position as an LTS coordinator!

What were your goals as coordinator?

“I wanted to expand the program, to continue the momentum that David had started.  I was involved with organizing the first All Science Challenge at the University of Manitoba, and my goal was to build on what we had learned,” explains Janet.

The program did expand.Eight teams of junior high students participated in the All Science Challenge. The following year they had 32 teams - a huge undertaking for the student volunteers – whose numbers had also gown.

But Janet wanted to do more with LTS, she says, “I wanted LTS to also be a community on campus.   I wanted to be there for the volunteers, and to make sure they felt valued and appreciated.” 

Not a small task given that Janet and her co-coordinators were now working with over 100 volunteers!  What Janet hadn’t anticipated was how she would be inspired by volunteers.

“Volunteers are asked to make a minimum commitment of time to receive recognition for their work with the program.  However, I was amazed at how many people went far and beyond this time commitment to work with kids in a wide range of activities (launching pop-bottle rockets to sewing E. coli), in both urban and rural communities.  These volunteers are truly committed to working with kids and sharing with kids their passion for science, “enthuses Janet.

How have you benefited from your LTS involvement?

“Seeing the faces of children working on the activities is both the biggest thrill and the greatest motivator to keep you going as a coordinator and a volunteer.  Doing something you love, and sharing the activity with others has no substitute,” explains Janet.

It isn’t all easy, and there can also be some stressful times, like when one classroom in Beausejour looked like there had been a cornstarch explosion.  The kids loved every minute of it!

As coordinator of LTS, Janet got to work on marketing, public speaking, coordinating large groups of volunteers and working with and making connections with teachers, parents, University professors and administrators.

“I got to meet and attend University functions with Dean Whitmore, and I worked with Associate Dean Worobec.  It’s been a great opportunity that not all students get.  It challenges you, and makes you grow as a person,” says Janet.

Advice to students:

University is a lot more than just going to classes.  Becoming involved with student organizations on campus will bring the most out of your university experience. Our university was given the motto “U of More” for a reason!

University is not easy, and the transition from high school can be difficult.  However, the connections you make at University are with people who share your same passions.  They can be the most important connections of your life.

Being involved with LTS was one of the best decisions I have made in my life…so far.

The Let’s Talk Science coordinators are sponsored by the Faculty of Science.  For more information, check out the Let’s Talk Science website


Janet Yuen (centre) working on strawberry DNA extraction with young students


Janet working at the egg drop station for the All Science Challenge in May 2011


At the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner in May 2011


All Science Challenge Coordinating Team


RELATED LINKS


Let's Talk Science website