Hurricane chaser storms Vancouver classroom 0
Storm chaser George Kourounis demonstrated a tiny version of a tornado using dried ice and a fan at Prince of Wales Mini School in Vancouver. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
A renowned explorer who chases storms and lunges into volcanoes for a living found himself in a Vancouver classroom Tuesday, enticing students with opportunities for big bucks in science without wearing boring lab coats.
George Kourounis has trained for just about every possible scenario. The Angry Planet TV star once spent days in the Chernobyl radioactive zone. He cooked a basket of eggs while dangling from ropes above Dominica’s Boiling Lake in 2007 — the first time anyone has suspended themselves above the sulfurous waters.
In the weeks to come, he’ll be taking samples from inside the always-burning crater of a methane chamber in Turkmenistan to see if life can survive on hot planets flooded with the noxious gas.
“When I was a kid I’d ride around in hailstorms in my bike and swim in flooded creeks, so I was always sort of that kind of kid. But then I had to get a ‘real’ job and face the world,” the former audio engineer said.
“So I did these small vacations every year … and it got to the point where for a month, I was chasing tornados, multiple hurricanes a year, and going to Africa to go to a volcano and still hold down a full-time job.”
Kourounis attributed his early success to the Internet in the late 1990s, when he found a similar-minded explorer who encouraged him to follow in the steps of childhood heroes Jacques Cousteau — the inventor of scuba gear — and Indiana Jones.
High school students at the Prince of Wales Mini School were treated Tuesday to the scientist’s presentation as part of a report with recommendations to educators and government calling for policy changes to curriculum to encourage youth to seek non-traditional science jobs.
Let’s Talk Science president Bonnie Schmidt said her report found the majority of Canadian company founders come from science backgrounds, but that more “fun” needs to be injected into grade school sciences to let students relate to the lessons they’re taught.
Jim Favaro of AMGEN Canada, which provided funding for the report, said kids taking math and sciences are 26% more likely to make more money than their counterparts.
An RBC-Ipsos Reid poll done earlier this year also found 92% of recent post-secondary science graduates found jobs in their fields of study.