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Folie Technique offers grants and organizes special activities to help narrow the gender gap by stimulating girls’ interest in the world of science.CAROLINE PERRON

In pictures, the kids are wearing colourful camp t-shirts and huge smiles, but also lab coats and safety goggles. They’re holding smoking beakers and rockets. It’s clear the 2,000 or so young people aged seven to 17 who attend each year Folie Technique – one of Canada’s oldest science camps – are there to have fun, but also to learn.

Folie Technique organizes summer camps around several themes – such as biochemistry, mechanics, physics and aerospace – supervised by a team of around 30 Polytechnique Montréal students eager to share their passion. They also provide free workshops to thousands of pupils around the province of Quebec. Between May and June of last year, they visited 111 classrooms.

“Our goal is to make science and engineering accessible to all young people, regardless of where they live, their socioeconomic situation, or their gender,” says Folie Technique executive director Julie Doucet Lamoureux.

Girls and science: a winning formula

Women are still under-represented in science, although that’s beginning to change: in 2020, 30.2 per cent of Polytechnique’s undergraduate engineering students were women. Overall though, Quebec and Canadian averages for female engineering graduates hover just over 23 per cent.

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Folie Technique executive director Julie Doucet Lamoureux believes this engagement can spark an interest in STEM-related careers.CAROLINE PERRON

Folie Technique offers scholarships and organizes special activities to help narrow that gap by stimulating girls’ interest in the world of science.

“We want to break down stereotypes and give them the chance to conduct experiments,” says Ms. Doucet Lamoureux. “We also want them to meet women who work or study in engineering and science. That’s so important. Being able to interact with female role models is key to the success of our programs.”

An annual fundraiser is held every December to help underwrite those activities while honouring the tragic events of December 6, 1989. Since its inception in 2014, The Week of the White Rose has amassed over $225,000, including a record-breaking $54,448 last year. Anyone can contribute by purchasing virtual white roses on the organization’s website.

A camp for all

Folie Technique offers financial assistance and workshops to young people from underprivileged backgrounds.

“School children don’t always know who we are. They might even be a little wary at first. But once they realize that they are able to solve scientific challenges, they are amazed,” says Ms. Doucet Lamoureux. “They get so into it. When the bell rings, they don’t want to leave.”

The non-profit organization doesn’t just criss-cross the province to fulfill its mission. In northern Quebec, in the Inuit community of Kangiqsujuaq, in Nunavik, its involvement runs deep. After providing science workshops to school children last year, Folie Technique prepares to launch a one-week summer camp in 2023.

“When kids discover science, they see what they are capable of, and then they feel proud of what they accomplish,” says Ms. Doucet Lamoureux. “Every fun learning experience creates a spark. Once that spark is lit, who knows where it will take them?”

Advertising feature produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.