Aurora Research Institute Staff Spotlight: Hilary Turko, Fort Smith STEM Outreach Coordinator

February, 14 2024

The Aurora Research Institute (ARI) is home to many incredible staff, and today, we wanted to shine a spotlight on one of our remarkable team members, Hilary Turko, our Fort Smith Science, Technology, Education and Math (STEM) Outreach Coordinator. The STEM outreach work carried out by ARI is crucial, touching the lives of children across the Northwest Territories by sparking curiosity, fostering innovation, and building the critical thinking skills necessary for tomorrow's challenges. Recently honoured with the 2023 GNWT Premier’s Award for STEM outreach, we took a moment to ask her about her impactful work as part of the ARI STEM outreach team.

1. What excites you the most about inspiring the next generation of scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians through your STEM outreach efforts, and can you share a memorable moment from one of your outreach activities?

What excites me most about inspiring the next generation of scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians is the opportunity to ignite a spark of curiosity and a passion for learning in young minds. Being part of their journey as they explore the wonders of science and technology is incredibly fulfilling. I love witnessing those "aha" moments. I love my job and am inspired by the prospect of shaping future innovators who will contribute to solving complex northern and global challenges. Having the opportunity to work with educators to guide young minds in developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills is rewarding.

2. Can you describe the collaborative efforts and partnerships you've established to enhance the impact of STEM education in our community?

The ARI Outreach Team is committed to enhancing the impact of STEM education in our regions. Recognizing that education is a collective endeavour, we have built strong relationships with our regional school boards, local schools, and community organizations. We work closely with educators to ensure that our programming is responsive to the needs of their students, keeping our curriculum and regions top of mind. By connecting students with STEM professionals, we aim to bridge the gap between academic knowledge and practical application, showcasing some of the many STEM jobs in our communities.

3. As we look ahead, what exciting projects or initiatives are you involved in, and how do you envision the future of STEM outreach at the Aurora Research Institute?

Coming up in the next month, our team is excited to host educators from across the NWT in Fort Smith for a 2-day STEM workshop, where we'll share some of our favourite STEM gear and activities. It's going to be a lot of fun! The demand for engaging digital literacy and hands-on science is growing in our communities, and our team is thrilled to be a part of it. We're also gearing up for a busy spring and summer with several community visits planned!