Science van rolls into town

Six-year-old Molly Koponyas smiled and looked closely as her handmade helicopter flew into the air.

"It's good," said Molly with a smile. She was checking out a science van that stopped by the Fort St. John Library.

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"(My favourite part) was the helicopter and the rainbow because the rainbow makes the colours and you can fly the helicopter," she said.

Ben Chu was one of the three science teachers on hand at the library on Friday afternoon.

"We're actually from a non-profit organization from Ottawa called Actua," said Chu. "We're dedicated to deliver science programming and camps in remote communities."

He said they spent the rest of the week at Blueberry First Nations and ended up with a day off.

"We were able to come to the Fort St. John library and we're so excited to be here," he said.

He explained what he and his two counterparts do.

"We do everything science," he said. "We dedicate a day to learning about chemistry, then learning about biology, then geology - it's all over science."

As Molly played with her helicopter, Chu explained how it was crafted.

"One of our activities is to learn about air pressure and flight," he said. "After we are able to make our own helicopters.

"The helicopters use potential energy from a spun up elastic and we're able to get the kids to design and engineer their own equipment and (subsequently) their own helicopters," continued Chu.

"It's really great for the kids because they can see what they can actually do and be introduced into different fields of engineering."

He noted that he just graduated with a bachelor in science from the University of Alberta. He and his two co-workers have been travelling doing science camps in small British Columbia communities for the summer.

"We've been on the road for about seven weeks," he said. "We flew from Ottawa and we did a week of training there.

"We've travelled up from McLeod Lake and did kind of a tour across northern B.C.," he said. "It's a lot of fun."

He said bringing science to small towns is integral.

"It's so important because a lot of small communities don't have a lot of the opportunities in terms of infrastructure in order to engage kids in science activities," said Chu.

"What we try to do is just foster excitement towards it so they can think about what they want to do when they grow up and that opportunities are out there for a career in science for anyone," he said.

While Molly said she really enjoyed her afternoon, her favourite subject in school is "drawing pictures after we do sentences."

Though her current future career choice is definitely science related.

When asked what she wanted to do when she grew up, Molly said, "check teeth."

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