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Volunteer Profile: Riley

Have you ever wondered what it's like to volunteer at a science centre? Science World is a wonderful place to make new friends and make a difference in the lives of visitors. Many of our volunteers have been a part of the Science World team for decades. Riley Schick-Martin has been sharing his knowledge and passion with kids of all ages for nearly five years. We asked him to tell us about his time around the dome. 

Where are you from and how did you end up at Science World?

I was born and raised in Vancouver. I remember often visiting Science World when I was young. I always loved the way useful information was presented in the form of such fun activities. When a friend and fellow volunteer suggested I try it out, it seemed like a perfect fit for me.

How long have you volunteered with Science World?

I have been volunteering since October of 2012. I’ve enjoyed my experiences so much it’s kept me coming back for over four years.

Why did you choose to volunteer at Science World and in the Puzzles and Illusions gallery?

I wanted to, in some small part, help pass on the enthusiasm for science that Science World had given me. It also seemed like a good excuse to spend more time here for myself. I opted for the Puzzles and Illusions gallery because I have always enjoyed challenging myself with solving problems. I wanted to see how other people approach these challenges and which methods work for which kinds of puzzles. I’ve also always been intrigued by how the mind can be fooled by illusions, especially impossible objects. I even named one of my dogs after M.C. Escher.

What is your area of expertise?

I have a background in Physics and Engineering and currently work as a particle accelerator operator, but I would say that my real forte lies in knowing about old and/or bad movies.

What do you like most about volunteering?

I very much enjoy seeing how different people approach puzzle solving. Volunteering lets me interact with and learn from lots of interesting guests. Also, I get to attend all of Science World’s staff and volunteer events, which are some of the best times I have all year!

What is your favorite puzzle/and or illusion and why?

For my favourite puzzle I would probably have to go with “T Time”. It’s a remarkably simple puzzle, using only four pieces to make a letter T, but your instincts work against you in solving it and it can be very challenging for people. I like puzzles that seem obvious after you see the solution.

For the illusions I would have to go with Benham’s disks. Since I am colour blind, I find it very interesting to see how everybody perceives different colours in an image that has none.

 What is your favorite Science World story or moment?

It’s very difficult to pick one specific moment.  Whenever someone gets really excited about having solved a puzzle (possibly with the help of a few leading questions) I share in that joy. Although I did once have a cinder block broken on my chest with a sledgehammer while lying on a bed of nails. That was pretty great too

Would you like to volunteer at Science World? Openings are posted frequently on our Volunteer page. Check back often for opportunities.