Chaim Andersen, Inuk of the Nunatsiavummiut, is pursuing an environmental science degree with a specialization in chemistry at the Grenfell Campus of Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Working with Dr. Rayner-Canham, Andersen is exploring the link between chemistry and traditional Inuit life and culture in order to produce a resource for teaching chemistry in Nunatsiavut schools.
Ms. Andersen, along with fellow student Ms. Lee and Dr. Rayner-Canham recently took the Grenfell Campus chemistry outreach program to Andersen's hometown of Nain, Nunatsiavut. The presentation began with an introduction on how chemistry is relevant to traditional Inuit life. Through a series of demonstrations, Ms. Andersen and Ms. Lee illustrated the chemistry of consumer products, such as food, and then went on to discuss environmental chemistry, with reusable waste materials as an example. Students were then invited to participate in groups and were able to get some hands-on experience!
"Inuit people have been one with nature for tens of thousands of years," said Ms. Andersen. "Knowledge of chemistry will help us understand and cope with the environmental changes already impacting us."
Andersen hopes that her chemistry outreach will inspire more Inuit students, particularly girls, to pursue a higher education in order to make significant contributions to the people of Nunatsiavut and Canada as a whole. She especially supports looking into programs offered at the Grenfell campus, since class sizes are small and there is a better opportunity to converse with professors.
The group also presented in other locations across Labrador, including Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Mud Lake, and Northwest River. Dr. Rayner-Canham added that Ms. Andersen and Ms. Lee made a great team.
Funding for this opportunity was provided by the Chemical Institute of Canada, Esteem Women N&L, Vale Inc., the Nunatsiavut Government, and Memorial University of Newfoundland.