Have you ever wondered what it's like to volunteer at Science World? We asked Jan Leung about her experience under the dome as a part of the Research and Evaluation team.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you decided to volunteer at Science World.
I was motivated to give back to the not-for-profit sector, which has given me so many unique opportunities, friendships, and happy moments in life. I genuinely believe and it is my experience that Canada is a land of opportunities, if you are ready to put yourself out there and to give your time and energy. I found out about the opportunity to do evaluation and research work with Science World through GoVolunteer.ca.
What is your area of expertise?
My day job involves working with data, so naturally my area of expertise is working with information and statistics. This includes data collecting, cleaning, analysis, and visualization. Volunteering with Science World has allowed me to tap into and use all of these skills.
How long have you been volunteering at Science World?
I started volunteering one year ago, and have clocked over 100 hours!
What does a Research and Evaluation Volunteer do?
Research & Evaluation Volunteer is a special role, which involves collecting data and information, usually through logging and observing activities, and then summarizing the findings on user interactions and experiences with the exhibits. This helps the staff determine how exhibits are being used and whether the customer experience can be improved. Unlike the other volunteer roles that work directly in a gallery, my role as a Research & Evaluation Volunteer has a flexible schedule that does work with the public at times but I often spend time independently analyzing data behind the scenes.
What is your favourite thing about volunteering?
I enjoy volunteering here because of the Science World team. The staff members here are really friendly, accommodating, supportive, and mindful of your need for work-life balance. The organization makes a substantial effort to keep in touch with us by posting news, opportunities and events. There is a sense that volunteers are valued and are important to the organization as a whole. I have enjoyed every assignment so far, as the work has been both varied and long-term.
What is something you’ve learned while volunteering here?
What I really like is that since I have becoming involved with Science World, I have actually become more interested in science myself! Though it was never my major in school, I now find science to be fundamental to understanding the physical world, and that the scientific mindset is vital to creating knowledge and bringing about change in the environment. It is like learning about science as a child again, but with an adults’ understanding of the significance to humanity.
What is your favourite Science World story or moment?
My favourite memories at Science World are from volunteering in the Wonder Gallery. While you are observing children, sometimes they are also watching you in return. Once a child came up to me and handed me a stuffed toy that he had found and did not know to whom it belonged. I figured the best way to return the toy to the rightful owner was to set it up on a blue block, so that the other kids could see it and claim it. This little stuffed toy was a bunny with a big head, and a thin body, so it would not stand upright no matter how many times I tried. I finally left the bunny on its side on a block. Immediately, a child came up to me and said, “That’s mine”. So I returned the toy to him. For some reason, after that the same child started to feel I was someone he could talk to, and he would come over where I was sitting and say things to me that he observed. He was not always coherent, but he spoke seriously about what he thought. While the interaction did not last long, it was a nice moment for me. Children do notice you working and are sometimes curious about what you do.