Kids explore their 'superpowers' at UTM's Bring Our Kids to Work day

U of T welcomed more than 450 students in grades four to seven for “Bring Our Children to Work Day” on Thursday, May 2. The annual event hosts children of staff and faculty for a day of fun and informative activities across the three campuses. At the U of T Mississauga campus, 43 young students took part in sessions that included lab-made confections and an up-close encounter with an endangered species.

The day kicked off with a welcome from Nicolle Wahl, director of content with UTM’s Office of Communications. Wahl shared secrets of the campus, exciting research taking place at UTM, and highlighted the accomplishments of distinguished alumni like astronaut Roberta Bondarand Mississauga poet laureate Wali Shah.

The students headed outside for the morning, beginning with a trek along the UTM Trail to search for wildlife with Associate Professor Marc Johnson and students from the Department of Biology. Participants peeked under logs and leaves to find insects, salamanders, worms and the first trilliums of spring. The group was especially excited to find a Jefferson salamander, which is currently on Ontario’s endangered species list. Johnson told the children that his superpower was his ability to identify almost anything in nature. “Find something, like biology, that with lots of work and practice you can make into your superpower,” he says.

The children continued to explore their superpowers with Assistant Professor Trevor Porter, laboratory technician Philip Rudz and student volunteers from the Department of Geography, where they examined a fallen pine tree in the forest, counting rings and taking core samples to learn more about the tree.

At lunch, Special Constables Hardeep Mann and Lucas Dziemianko of UTM’s Campus Police Services challenged the children to extinguish a digital fire using the same equipment used to train campus fire marshals.

Participants donned lab coats for a hands-on demonstration of food science as they created ice cream with lab supervisor Michael Liu and lab technician Samer Doughan of the Department of Chemistry. Following the food science experiments, students got their hearts pumping with leadership games organized by assistant camp directors Sarah Tracz and Graham Childs of Camp U of T Mississauga. “Our goal is to encourage the kids to think about their health and wellness with activities to support a healthy lifestyle,” says Cameron Walker, community outreach officer for the Recreation Athletics & Wellness Centre.

The day concluded with an introduction to art curation in a collage session led by Fraser McCallum, project coordinator at the Blackwood Gallery, and Jessica Velasco, an art and art history undergraduate student. “We want to show the children how a curator makes decisions like where to place things and how things are installed, and how contemporary artists work with existing images,” McCallum says.

This is the twenty-sixth year for the event on the Mississauga campus. “Bring Our Children to Work Day” is supported U of T's HR & Equity Office, the Office of the Principal and the Chief Administrative Officer and the help of many volunteers.

(Written by Maeve Doyle and Blake Eligh)