1996 Winner: Excellence In Science And Technology Public Awareness

Promoting Science for Young Women

WISEST (Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology) was founded in 1982 to increase the awareness of young people, especially women, to the benefits of science and engineering. Collaboration with industry, school boards and the University of Alberta resulted in this program being a prototype for many other awareness groups in Canada. WISEST has stimulated the interest of many young Albertans through such activities as CHOICES, SET and the Summer Research Program. CHOICES is a series of one-day conferences for girls in grade 6 and their teachers which gives the attendees the opportunity to learn from their own experiences that science is fun, interesting, relevant to their lives and something they can do.

Over 3500 girls and 1000 of their teachers have attended these events. SET, an experience in science, engineering and technology, is a similar event for students from grades 9 through 12. In the Summer Research Program, Grade 11 students spend six weeks doing paid research with a University of Alberta faculty member in the sciences or engineering. This unique and cost effective program allows students to participate in ‘real life research.’

From 10 students in 1984, the number of participants has now grown to 50 each year, chosen from over 300 applications from central and northern Alberta. Students are chosen from as many schools as possible with the goal of spreading knowledge and enthusiasm for science to a wide area. Of the former participants responding to a 1993 questionnaire, 98% have attended university and 85% have majored in science or engineering citing their WISEST experience as having contributed to their decision.