How International Day of Women and Girls in Science Changed my Life
A year ago today, February 11, 2018, was one of the greatest and most terrifying days for me. I was invited to speak at the Ontario Science Centre for their International Day of Women and Girls in Science event, little did I know that this day would change my entire life in so many ways.
The Ontario Science Centre was truly my second home growing up. My brother Aidan and I would visit the Ontario Science Centre on a weekly basis, dashing through the exhibits, having a routine on where we would go first, second, third... learning something new at each and every visit. It was places like the Ontario Science Centre, Toronto Zoo and Royal Ontario Museum that our love of science was inspired. When I received the invitation to speak, I was so excited and honoured!
We arrived early and made our way down to the "Hot Zone" on Level 6. My talk was, "How we can get more Girls in STEM". A few of the STEM Kids Rock STEM Squad had come to cheer me on as well as my amazing soccer club's Technical Director, Paul Omoghan!
At the end of my talk there was a question and answer period where I was asked if I had ever heard of the Ontario Science Centre's Science School and if I would like to apply! This was the first time I had heard about the school and learned that it was for grade 12 students in Ontario who are in love with science . Students attend the Science School for an entire semester and all the classes are held at the Ontario Science Centre. This sounded AMAZING!
After my presentation, my parents and I went to the cafeteria, something we would have done when I was a little kid. This is when one of the greatest days of my life quickly turned into one of the scariest. My Dad, who recently had a heart procedure called an Ablation, started to quickly feel unwell. He just wanted to take our lunch and go. By the time we got to the entrance of the Ontario Science Centre, he collapsed. My Dad was having a heart attack. The security staff were amazing and acted right away, within minutes the ambulance arrived and we were on our way to St. Michael's. It was science that saved my dad, the doctors all said that he most likely wouldn't have survived if he had the heart attack ten years ago and I'm thrilled to share with you that he is doing great!
Once I knew my Dad was going to be ok, I could focus on applying to the Ontario Science Centre Science School. I applied in the spring of my grade 11 year and made sure to have all of my grade 11 science and math credits completed. Thankfully, I was accepted into the fall/winter 2018/19 Semester 73! I met 30 amazing classmates who loved science and math as much as I did AND had phenomenal teachers. There, my love of Chemistry continued to grow, and now I'm applying to Chemical and Physical sciences for University!
I owe so much to the Ontario Science Centre, the opportunities for early and often exposure to science as a young kid that created my strong STEM foundation. I'm so proud and honoured to be a graduate of the Ontario Science Centre Science School's Semester 73!
Thank you Ontario Science Centre's International Women and Girls in Science Day Event for changing my life and Happy 50th Birthday! #sciencecentre50
Keeley Aird and her brother Aidan Aird are the co-founders of STEM Kids Rock, a kid powered organization whose mission is to inspire, engage & empower the next generation of STEM leaders through early & often exposure to science. The STEM Kids Rock Free Mobile Science Centre empowers kids of all ages and abilities to teach their peers about STEM. Since its inception, STEM Kids Rock has engaged and inspired over 150,000 youth at community events, libraries, museums, camps, conferences, Scouts, Guides, STEAM nights, festivals and fun fairs. Keeley is a Guinness World Record Title Holder for the Largest Water Rocket as well as a member of the Toronto FC Special Olympics Ontario Unified Team. She is a recent graduate of the Ontario Science Centre's Science School Semester 73, an amazing school she encourages all STEM students to apply to in grade 11. Keeley aspires to pursue Chemistry at University as well as continue her work with STEM Kids Rock, Special Olympics Ontario and 360kids.