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John Oliver Student Stereotypes Challenged by Math and Science Rock Stars

On January 30, 2014, a collection of human "books," all of whom pack impressive resumes in the math and science fields, met with almost 200 Grade 9 students at John Oliver Secondary School to talk about their passions, education and life's work. 

JO's human library event aimed to challenge stereotypes by bringing people together to interact and share their stories, giving students the opportunity to learn from a scientist or mathematician.

For the whole day in the school's learning commons, students conversed with the human "books" of their choice. During the conversation, the Grade 9s asked about the exciting developments in the specialists' fields, explored a "day in the life" of these accomplished and interesting people and took note of their advice.

Manjinder Deol, an engineer who designed Nano and iPod accessories for Apple, was one of the most popular "books". Deol, who graduated from John Oliver, now works as a maritime system engineer. The students' eyes widened in surprise when hearing Deol describe how 3D printing technology can change peoples' lives and how he is able to design a computer that would fit in the size of a gum stick.

"Keep your options open when considering the elective course. Beware of the amazing technology happening outside the school and imagine you could be the one that creates it," Deol told his groups of students.

Among the thirty human books attending the JO event were University of Laval professor Jean-Marie De Koninck, Calgary oil patch geophysicist Nancy Shaw, TRIUMF and BC Cancer Agency nuclear scientist Thomas Ruth, Genome BC Chief Scientific Officer Brad Popovich and paranormal investigator and master electrician Paul Stevens.

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