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Responses to Your Child’s Unsettling Questions About the Environment

June 4 2021 | Valérie Demers

“Will the planet still let us grow vegetables when I’m older?” Yikes, that’s quite a question for an 8-year-old. If you’re anything like me, your first move here would be to hide your wide-eyed stare while you find a good answer to your little tyke’s question.

Because just saying “sure, honey” probably won’t cut it.

Gladly, the videos from our EXPLORE exhibition can help! They are inspired by the work of Canadian researchers and the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals. In less than two minutes, your little squirt can learn how we can extract salt from sea water to make it safe to drink.

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Ideas for Better Living

Using the motion of waves to produce drinking water… taking inspiration from whale fins to design wind turbines… mimicking the force of the sun to grow vegetables… you bet!

This is the kind of ingenuity that EXPLORE’s short video series wonderfully illustrates, all in an effort to show us how we can promote prosperity while protecting the planet.

Presented by kids and for kids, seven themes are explored in these short, animated clips — motion, air, light, geometry, water, matter, and code. Each one uses a gloom-free, hope-filled approach that promotes solutions, much like the approach used by the UN to promote its sustainable development goals.

Here’s a taste of what they’ll find! In collaboration with Inuit communities, the SIKU project (led by scientist and director Joel Heath) sets out to create a real-time map that reports on the safety of the sea ice. Thanks to this project, travelling across the ice becomes a whole lot safer! This is a perfect match with the UN’s Goal 13 on climate action: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Here’s another! Vice-President of research and development at CO2 Solutions, Sylvie Fradette, is developing carbon-capturing industrial lungs to purify combustion emissions from factories. Now that’s an inspired match with the UN’s Goal 9 on innovative industry infrastructure: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation.                                                                                                    

Getting the Message Across… Inclusively

Nature is a great source of diversity and the EXPLORE video series wanted to showcase the power of innovation using voices that reflect all our great human diversity. The Science Centre also took the opportunity to promote the importance of empowering women and Indigenous people and the value of cultural and gender diversity.

Take Geneviève Ali, for example. She studies the flow of water to help avert floods. She is part of a research team with a keen focus on women in science. Those are great matches with the UN’s Goal 5 on gender equality: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. And then there’s Hélène Genest, whose knowledge of fire helps forests regenerate in a sustainable way. That’s a match with the UN’s Goal 15 about terrestrial ecosystems.

Here’s Another Goal: Fun!

Say what you will but talking about science nowadays goes hand in hand with talking about the environment. Around the world, science centres are answering this call and taking popular science to a new level by taking on sustainable development. Making sustainable development a focus of interest also lets them promote and take advantage of a great collection of fun and engaging materials that the UN has put together for young people, such as:

  • Embarking on missions designed by the Climate Action Superheroes
  • Following Frieda’s story as she explores the UN’s sustainable development goals from her home in Namibia
  • Playing Go Goals, a board game kids can play together  

There are goodies for parents too! Even the really busy ones! Check out the UN’s Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World. And guess what? Some actions can be accomplished right from the couch! Only thing left to do now is sit back and watch the Science Centre’s YouTube channel:

Valérie Demers
Profile picture for user Valérie Demers

Some people are like Swiss Army knives. That is certainly true of Valérie Demers, who holds a joint Bachelor's degree in art history and social science and a Master's in environmental science. Valérie alternately focuses her pen and her camera on people who are passionate about knowledge and humanity. She views herself as a sensitive autodidact with a keen aesthetic sense.

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