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Got a special student project? Fund it now

Grads and undergrads invited to apply for $135,000 worth of grants by February 7
January 30, 2014
By Patrick Lejtenyi

Updated February 5, 2014.

Let’s Talk Science team The CCSL-funded Let’s Talk Science team promotes science literacy in schoolchildren. | Photo courtesy of Let’s Talk Science

Andrew Woodall, Concordia’s dean of students, likes new things: new ideas, new projects, new inspiration.

And each year, he chairs the committee that distributes about $135,000 worth of grants through the Special Projects fund of the Concordia Council on Student Life (CCSL). This parity committee (half students; half faculty and staff) is the governing body that oversees non-academic student affairs at the university.

The money goes to a variety of student-led activities, which, in the dean’s words, “add to the intellectual, political, cultural and recreational life on — and beyond — our campuses.”

The projects financed by the CCSL are as varied as the interests of Concordia’s student population. Take Let’s Talk Science: this term, it will send a team of trained university students to the Rapid Lake reserve in the Outaouais region of Quebec to share science-related activities with 80 First Nations schoolchildren.

Other CCSL-supported projects include the McNaughton series of tutorials and workshops, which provides student-run instruction relating to electronics, robotics and digital logic; and the Four Seasons Grow Project, an initiative that uses aquaponics (a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics) to grow fruit and vegetables in the Concordia greenhouse. There are dozens of other projects — and most are seeking additional volunteers.

Let’s Talk Science is coordinated by Alexandre Elhalwi, a master’s student in exercise science. He and the team will be making the five-hour drive to Rapid Lake sometime in mid-March.

They’ve already planned out their educational program. The youngest children will mix flour, salt and water to gain an understanding of recipe values and textures; the middle grades will learn about the five senses; and, depending on the weather, the older ones will either learn about evolution or health.

Elhalwi says CCSL funding covers transportation, food and accommodation costs: “This project wouldn’t be possible without it.”

Although the Concordia chapter of Let’s Talk Science — a national organization — has been promoting science literacy in Montreal since 2011, this is its first time on the road.

“We have to start with one trip,” Elhalwi says. Logistics, planning, equipment and transportation are all big issues to tackle. “But I’m very optimistic. This is going to pave the way for future trips.”

Woodall is hoping to see a host of new applicants in the lead-up to this term’s February 7 CCSL deadline.

“The Special Projects Fund helps students do what they do best, which is come up with ideas and bring them to fruition,” he says. “The funds are there to start something new, or to do something old in a different way.”

Any current student or member of a registered student group can apply for CCSL Special Projects funding by February 7. 

And don’t forget — the CCSL Outstanding Contribution Awards deadline is February 14. Nominate a Concordian for his or her outstanding contributions to student life. 

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