Tag Archives: Canada National Science and Technology Week

Dear Science Minister Kirsty Duncan and Science, Innovation and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains: a Happy Canada Day! open letter

Dear Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan and Minister of Science, Innovation and Economic Development Navdeep Bains,

Thank you both. It’s been heartening to note some of the moves you’ve made since entering office. Taking the muzzles off Environment Canada and Natural Resources Canada scientists was a big relief and it was wonderful to hear that the mandatory longform census was reinstated along with the Experimental Lakes Area programme. (Btw, I can’t be the only one who’s looking forward to hearing the news once Canada’s Chief Science Officer is appointed. In the fall, eh?)

Changing the National Science and Technology week by giving it a news name “Science Odyssey” and rescheduling it from the fall to the spring seems to have revitalized the effort. Then, there was the news about a review focused on fundamental science (see my June 16, 2016 post). It seems as if the floodgates have opened or at least communication about what’s going on has become much freer. Brava and Bravo!

The recently announced (June 29, 2016) third assessment on the State of S&T (Science and Technology) and IR&D (Industrial Research and Development; my July 1, 2016 post features the announcement) by the Council of Canadian Academies adds to the impression that you both have adopted a dizzying pace for science of all kinds in Canada.

With the initiatives I’ve just mentioned in mind, it would seem that encouraging a more vital science culture and and re-establishing science as a fundamental part of Canadian society is your aim.

Science education and outreach as a whole population effort

It’s facey to ask for more but that’s what I’m going to do.

In general, the science education and outreach efforts in Canada have focused on children. This is wonderful but not likely to be as successful as we would hope when a significant and influential chunk of the population is largely ignored: adults. (There is a specific situation where outreach to adults is undertaken but more about that later.)

There is research suggesting that children’s attitudes to science and future careers is strongly influenced by their family. From my Oct. 9, 2013 posting,

One of the research efforts in the UK is the ASPIRES research project at King’s College London (KCL), which is examining children’s attitudes to science and future careers. Their latest report, Ten Science Facts and Fictions: the case for early education about STEM careers (PDF), is profiled in a Jan. 11, 2012 news item on physorg.com (from the news item),

Professor Archer [Louise Archer, Professor of Sociology of Education at King’s] said: “Children and their parents hold quite complex views of science and scientists and at age 10 or 11 these views are largely positive. The vast majority of children at this age enjoy science at school, have parents who are supportive of them studying science and even undertake science-related activities in their spare time. They associate scientists with important work, such as finding medical cures, and with work that is well paid.

“Nevertheless, less than 17 per cent aspire to a career in science. These positive impressions seem to lead to the perception that science offers only a very limited range of careers, for example doctor, scientist or science teacher. It appears that this positive stereotype is also problematic in that it can lead people to view science as out of reach for many, only for exceptional or clever people, and ‘not for me’. [emphases mine]

Family as a bigger concept

I suggest that ‘family’ be expanded to include the social environment in which children operate. When I was a kid no one in our family or extended group of friends had been to university let alone become a scientist. My parents had aspirations for me but when it came down to brass tacks, even though I was encouraged to go to university, they were much happier when I dropped out and got a job.

It’s very hard to break out of the mold. The odd thing about it all? I had two uncles who were electricians which when you think about it means they were working in STEM (science, technology,engineering, mathematics) jobs. Electricians, then and now. despite their technical skills, are considered tradespeople.

It seems to me that if more people saw themselves as having STEM or STEM-influenced occupations: hairdressers, artists, automechanics, plumbers, electricians, musicians, etc., we might find more children willing to engage directly in STEM opportunities. We might also find there’s more public support for science in all its guises.

That situation where adults are targeted for science outreach? It’s when the science is considered controversial or problematic and, suddenly, public (actually they mean voter) engagement or outreach is considered vital.

Suggestion

Given the initiatives you both have undertaken and Prime Minister Trudeau’s recent public outbreak of enthusiasm for and interest in quantum computing (my April 18, 2016 posting), I’m hopeful that you will consider the notion and encourage (fund?) science promotion programmes aimed at adults. Preferably attention-grabbing and imaginative programmes.

Should you want to discuss the matter further (I have some suggestions), please feel free to contact me.

Regardless, I’m very happy to see the initiatives that have been undertaken and, just as importantly, the communication about science.

Yours sincerely,

Maryse de la Giroday
(FrogHeart blog)

P.S. I very much enjoyed the June 22, 2016 interview with Léo Charbonneau for University Affairs,

UA: Looking ahead, where would you like Canada to be in terms of research in five to 10 years?

Dr. Duncan: Well, I’ll tell you, it breaks my heart that in a 10-year period we fell from third to eighth place among OECD countries in terms of HERD [government expenditures on higher education research and development as a percentage of gross domestic product]. That should never have happened. That’s why it was so important for me to get that big investment in the granting councils.

Do we have a strong vision for science? Do we have the support of the research community? Do we have the funding systems that allow our world-class researchers to do the work they want do to? And, with the chief science officer, are we building a system where we have the evidence to inform decision-making? My job is to support research and to make sure evidence makes its way to the cabinet table.

As stated earlier, I’m hoping you will expand your vision to include Canadian society, not forgetting seniors (being retired or older doesn’t mean that you’re senile and/or incapable of public participation), and supporting Canada’s emerging science media environment.

P.P.S. As a longstanding observer of the interplay between pop culture, science, and society I was much amused and inspired by news of Justin Trudeau’s emergence as a character in a Marvel comic book (from a June 28, 2016 CBC [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation] news online item),

Trudeau Comic Cover 20160628

The variant cover of the comic Civil War II: Choosing Sides #5, featuring Prime Minister Justin Trudeau surrounded by the members of Alpha Flight: Sasquatch, top, Puck, bottom left, Aurora, right, and Iron Man in the background. (The Canadian Press/Ramon Perez)

Make way, Liberal cabinet: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will have another all-Canadian crew in his corner as he suits up for his latest feature role — comic book character.

Trudeau will grace the variant cover of issue No. 5 of Marvel’s “Civil War II: Choosing Sides,” due out Aug. 31 [2016].

Trudeau is depicted smiling, sitting relaxed in the boxing ring sporting a Maple Leaf-emblazoned tank, black shorts and red boxing gloves. Standing behind him are Puck, Sasquatch and Aurora, who are members of Canadian superhero squad Alpha Flight. In the left corner, Iron Man is seen with his arms crossed.

“I didn’t want to do a stuffy cover — just like a suit and tie — put his likeness on the cover and call it a day,” said award-winning Toronto-based cartoonist Ramon Perez.

“I wanted to kind of evoke a little bit of what’s different about him than other people in power right now. You don’t see (U.S. President Barack) Obama strutting around in boxing gear, doing push-ups in commercials or whatnot. Just throwing him in his gear and making him almost like an everyday person was kind of fun.”

The variant cover featuring Trudeau will be an alternative to the main cover in circulation showcasing Aurora, Puck, Sasquatch and Nick Fury.

It’s not the first time a Canadian Prime Minister has been featured in a Marvel comic book (from the CBC news item),

Trudeau Comic Cover 20160628

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1979’s Volume 120 of The Uncanny X-Men. (The Canadian Press/Marvel)

Trudeau follows in the prime ministerial footsteps of his late father, Pierre, who graced the pages of “Uncanny X-Men” in 1979.

The news item goes on to describe artist/writer Chip Zdarsky’s (Edmonton-born) ideas for the 2016 story.

h/t to Reva Seth’s June 29, 2016 article for Fast Company for pointing me to Justin Trudeau’s comic book cover.

Of Canadian 2015 election science debates and science weeks

You’d think science and technology might rate a mention in a debate focused on the economy but according to all accounts, that wasn’t the case last night in a Sept. 17, 2015 Canadian federal election debate featuring three party leaders, Justin Trudeau of the Liberal Party, Thomas Mulcair of the New Democratic Party (NDP), and Stephen Harper, Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party. BTW, Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party, was not invited but managed to participate by tweeting video responses to the debate questions. For one of the more amusing and, in its way, insightful commentaries on the debate, there’s a Sept. 17, 2015 blog posting on CBC [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation] News titled: ‘Old stock Canadians,’ egg timer, creepy set top debate’s odd moments; Moderator David Walmsley’s Irish accent and a ringing bell get reaction on social media.

As for science and the 2015 Canadian federal election, Science Borealis has compiled an informal resource list in a Sept. 18, 2015 posting and while I’ve excerpted the resources where you can find suggested questions for candidates, there’s much more to be found there,

 

 

Interestingly, the journal Nature has published a Sept. 17, 2015 article (h/t @CBC Quirks) by Nicola Jones featuring the Canadian election and science concerns and the impact science concerns have had on opposition party platforms (Note: Links have been removed),

Canadians will head to the polls on 19 October [2015], in a federal election that many scientists hope will mark a turning point after years of declining research budgets and allegations of government censorship.

In an unprecedented move, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada — a union in Ottawa that represents more than 57,000 government scientists and other professionals — is campaigning in a federal race. “Here’s how we do things in the Harper government,” declares one of the union’s radio advertisements. “We muzzle scientists, we cut research and we ignore anyone who doesn’t tell us what we want to hear.”

Science advocates see little chance that their issues will be aired during a 17 September [2015] debate in Calgary that will pit Harper against NDP [New Democratic Party] leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. But concerns about the state of Canadian science have nevertheless influenced party platforms.

The middle-left Liberal Party has made scientific integrity part of its election campaign, proposing the creation of a central public portal to disseminate government-funded research. The party seeks to appoint a chief science officer to ensure the free flow of information.

Similarly, the NDP has called for a parliamentary science officer, a position that would be independent of the majority party or coalition leading the government.

Adding to the concern about the practice of science in Canada is the delayed release of a biennial report from the government’s Science, Technology and Innovation Council (STIC). Paul Wells in a June 26, 2015 article for Maclean’s Magazine discusses the situation (Note: Links have been removed),

It is distressing when organizations with no partisan role play the sort of games partisans want. The latest example is the advisory board that the Harper government created to tell it how Canada is doing in science.

I have written about the Science, Technology and Innovation Council every two years since it produced its first major report, in May 2009. STIC, as it’s known, is not some fringe group of pinko malcontents trying to stir up trouble and turn the people against their right and proper governing party. It was conceived by the Harper government (in 2007), appointed by the Harper government (in bits ever since), and it consists, in part, of senior officials who work with the Harper government every day. …

This group gives the feds the best advice they can get about how Canada is faring against other countries in its science, research and technology efforts. Its reports have been increasingly discouraging.

Perhaps you wonder: What’s the situation now? Keep wondering. Every previous STIC biennial report was released in the spring. This winter, I met a STIC member, who told me the next report would come out in May 2015 and that it would continue most of the declining trend lines established by the first three reports. I wrote to the STIC to ascertain the status of the latest report. Here’s the answer I received:

“Thank you for your interest. STIC’s next State of the Nation report will be released later in the Fall. We will be happy to inform you of the precise date and release details when they have been confirmed.”

There is no reason this year’s report was not released in the spring, as every previous report was. None except the approach of a federal election.

Getting back to a national science debate, I have written about a proposed debate to be held on the CBC Quirks and Quarks radio programme here in a Sept. 3, 2015 posting which also features a local upcoming (on Weds., Sept. 23, 2015) election science and technology debate amongst  federal candidates in Victoria, BC. I cannot find anything more current about the proposed national science debate other than the CBC radio producer’s claim that it would occur in early October. Earlier today (Sept. 18, 2015) I checked their Twitter feed (https://twitter.com/CBCQuirks) and their website (http://www.cbc.ca/radio/quirks). I wonder what’s taking so long for an announcement. In the space of a few hours, I managed to get Ted Hsu and Lynne Quarmby, science shadow ministers for the Liberal and Green parties, respectively, to express interest in participating.

Well, whether or not there is a 2015 national science debate, I find the level of interest, in contrast to the 2011 election, exciting and affirming.

In the midst of all this election and science discussion, there are some big Canadian science events on the horizon. First and technically speaking not on the horizon, there’s Beakerhead (a smashup of art, science, and engineering) in Calgary, Alberta which runs from Sept. 16 – 20, 2015. Here are a few of the exhibits and installations you can find should you get to Calgary in time (from a Sept. 16, 2015 Beakerhead news release),

The five days of Beakerhead officially get rolling today with the world’s largest pop-up gallery, called a String (Theory) of Incredible Encounters, with a circumference of five kilometres around downtown Calgary.

The series of public art installations is an exploration in creativity at the crossroads of art, science and engineering, and can be seen by touring Calgary’s neighbourhoods, from Inglewood to East Village to Victoria Park, 17th Ave and Kensington. The home base or hub for Beakerhead this year is at Station B (the Beakerhead moniker for installations at Fort Calgary).

Station B is home to two other massive firsts – a 30-foot high version of the arcade claw game, and a 6,400 square foot sandbox – all designed to inspire human ingenuity.

Beakerhead 2015 event will erupt on the streets and venues of Calgary from September 16 to 20, and includes more than 160 collaborators and 60 public events, ranging from theatre where the audience is dining as part of the show to installations where you walk through a human nose. More than 25,000 students will be engaged in Beakerhead through field trips, classroom visits and ingenuity challenges.

Just as Beakerhead ends, Canada’s 2015 Science Literacy Week opens Sept. 21 – 27, 2015. Here’s more about the week from a Sept. 18, 2015 article by Natalie Samson for University Affairs,

On Nov. 12 last year [2014], the European Space Agency landed a robot on a comet. It was a remarkable moment in the history of space exploration and scientific inquiry. The feat amounted to “trying to throw a dart and hit a fly 10 miles away,” said Jesse Hildebrand, a science educator and communicator. “The math and the physics behind that is mindboggling.”

Imagine Mr. Hildebrand’s disappointment then, as national news programs that night spent about half as much time reporting on the comet landing as they did covering Barack Obama’s gum-chewing faux pas in China. For Mr. Hildebrand, the incident perfectly illustrates why he founded Science Literacy Week, a Canada-wide public education campaign celebrating all things scientific.

From Sept. 21 to 27 [2015], several universities, libraries and museums will highlight the value of science in our contemporary world by hosting events and exhibits on topics ranging from the lifecycle of a honeybee to the science behind Hollywood films like Jurassic World and Contact.

Mr. Hildebrand began developing the campaign last year, shortly after graduating from the University of Toronto with a bachelor’s degree in ecology and evolutionary biology. He approached the U of T Libraries for support and “it really snowballed from there,” the 23-year-old said.

Though Mr. Hildebrand said Science Literacy Week wasn’t inspired by public criticism against the federal government’s approach to scientific research and communication, he admitted that it makes the campaign seem that much more important. “I’ve always wanted to shout from the rooftops how cool science is. This is my way of shouting from the rooftops,” he said.

In the lead-up to Science Literacy Week, museum scientists with the Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada have been posting videos of what they do and why it’s important under the hashtag #canadalovesscience. The end of the campaign will coincide with a lunar eclipse and will see several universities and observatories hosting stargazing parties.

You can find out more about this year’s events on the Science Literacy Week website. Here are a few of the BC events I found particularly intriguing,

UBC Botanical Garden – Jointly run as part of National Forest Week/Organic Week

September 20th, 10 a.m-12 p.m – A Walk in the Woods

Come discover the forest above, below and in between on our guided forest tour! Explore and connect with trees that hold up our 300-metre long canopy walkway. [emphasis mine] Meet with grand Firs, Douglas Firs and Western Red Cedars and learn about the importance of forests to biodiversity, climate change and our lives.

September 24th, 7:30-11 P.M – Food Garden Tour and Outdoor Movie Night

What better way to celebrate Organic Week than to hear about our exciting plans for the UBC Food Garden? Tour renewed garden beds to see what’s been growing. Learn about rootstocks, cultivars, training techniques and tree forms for fruit trees in this area.  Then make your way to out enchanting outdoor Ampitheatre and watch Symphony of the Soil, a film celebrated by the UN for 2015, the International Year of the Soil.

I highlighted the UBC Botanical Garden canopy walkway because you really do walk high up in the forest as you can see in this image of the walkway,

[downloaded from http://www.familyfuncanada.com/vancouver/canopy-walk-ubc-botanical-garden/]

[downloaded from http://www.familyfuncanada.com/vancouver/canopy-walk-ubc-botanical-garden/]

This image is from an undated article by Lindsay Follett for Family Fun Vancouver.

While it’s still a month away, there is Canada’s upcoming 2015 National Science and Technology Week, which will run from Oct. 16 – 25. To date, they do not have any events listed for this year’s week but they do invite you to submit your planned event for inclusion in their 2015 event map and list of events.

Canada’s National Science and Technology Week (Oct. 17 – 26, 2014) followed by Transatlantic Science Week (Oct. 27 – 29, 2014)

Canada’s National Science and Technology Week (it’s actually 10 days) starts on today, Oct. 17, 2014 this year. You can find a listing of events across the country on the National Science and Technology Week Events List webpage (Note: I have reformatted the information I’ve excerpted from the page but all the details remain the same and links have been removed),

Alberta

Medicine Hat     Praxis Annual Family Science Olympics     Medicine Hat High School Taylor Science Centre (enter on 5th street)     Saturday, October 18, 2014, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.     Praxis will be hosting their annual Family Science Olympics. The day will consist of ten hands on science challenges that each family can participate in. If you complete eight of the ten, you will be entered into the draw for the grand prize of a remote control helicopter with a camera. Each “family” must have at least one person over the age of 18. The event is free and will have something for all ages.

British Columbia

Vancouver     First Responder’s weekend     Science World at TELUS World of Science     Saturday October 18 & Sunday October 19, 10am – 6pm both days     First responders are an important and integral part of every community. Join Vancouver firefighters, BC paramedics, Vancouver police, Ecomm 911 and the Canadian Border Services Agency as they showcase who our first responders are, what they do, the technology they use and the role that science plays in their work. Explore emergency technology inside and emergency response vehicles outside the building.

Manitoba

Dugald     Bees, Please     Springfield Public Library, Dugald, Manitoba     October 17, 22, and 24th for programs. We will have the display set up for the duration, from Oct 17-26th. 10 a.m to 8 p.m.     Preschool programs all week will feature stories and crafts on bees and their importance in the world. Kids in the Kitchen, menu selections will feature the use of honey all week. We will have displays of honey, bees and farming with local Ag. Society assistance.

New Brunswick

Dieppe     Tech Trek 2014     Dieppe Arts and Culture Centre     Saturday, October 25, 2014, 9 AM – 12 PM     Come join us for a morning filled with science and tech activities for children of all ages! Admission to this event is free!

Ontario

Ottawa     Funfest     Booth Street Complex(Corner of Booth and Carling)     Sunday, October 19, 2014 – 11:00 am to 4:00 pm     Science Funfest is an open house event that takes place at Natural Resources Canada’s Booth Street Complex, at the corner of Carling Avenue and Booth Street in Ottawa. It’s a wonderful opportunity for children and anyone interested in science to engage in presentations and gain hands on science experience by participating in activities that will showcase the importance of science in a fun and interactive way. Last year’s event featured approximately 70 interactive exhibits on subjects ranging from ‘Slime’ to ‘Canada’s Forest Insects’.

Toronto     Science Literacy Week     Gerstein Science Information Centre, University of Toronto     September 22-28, 2014   [emphasis mine]  Science literacy week is a city wide effort to provide access to some of the best science communicators of all time.  Through book displays, links to online content, documentary screenings and lecture series, the aim is to showcase how captivating science really is.    The science literacy week’s goal is to give people the opportunity to marvel at the discoveries and developments of the last few centuries of scientific thought.

Québec

Sherbrooke     Conférence “La crystallographie : art, science et chocolat!” Par Alexis Reymbault     Musée de la nature et des sciences de Sherbrooke     October 22, 2014     French only.

Saskatchewan

Saskatoon     See the Light: Open House at the Canadian Light Source     Canadian Light Source, 44 Innovation Blvd.     Saturday, October 18, 2014, 9-11:30 am and 1-4 pm     Tour the synchrotron and talk with young researchers and see where and how they use the synchrotron to study disease. Advance registration required: http://fluidsurveys.usask.ca/s/CLS/

At this point, there seem to be fewer events than usual but that may be due to a problem the organizer (Canada’s Science and Technology Museums Corporation) has been dealing with since Sept. 11, 2014. That day, they had to close the country’s national Science and Technology Museum due to issues with airbourne mould (Sept. 11, 2014 news item on the Globe and Mail website). As for what Toronto’s Science Literacy Week 2014, which took place during September, is doing on a listing of October events is a mystery to me unless this is an attempt to raise awareness for the 2015 event mentioned on the Science Literacy Week 2014  webpage.

Transatlantic Science Week (Oct. 26 – 29, 2014), which is three days not a week, is being held in Toronto, Ontario and it extends (coincidentally or purposefully) Canada’s National Science and Technology Week (Oct. 17 – 26, 2014). Here’s more about Transatlantic Science Week from a UArctic (University of the Arctic) Sept. 12, 2014 blog posting (Note 1: UArctic announced the dates as Oct. 27 – 29, 2014 as opposed to the dates from the online registration website for the event; Note 2: Despite the error with the dates the information about the week is substantively the same as the info. on the registration webpage)

The Transatlantic Science Week is an annual trilateral science and innovation conference that promotes the collaboration between research, innovation, government, and business in Canada, the United States and Norway.  Held in Toronto, Canada, this year’s theme focuses on “The Arctic: Societies, Sustainability, and Safety”.

The Transatlantic Science Week 2014 will examine challenges and opportunities in the Arctic through three specialized tracks: (1) Arctic climate science, (2) Arctic safety and cross border knowledge, and (3) Arctic research-based industrial development and resource management. Business opportunities in the Arctic is an essential part of the program.

The evernt [sic] provides a unique arena to facilitate critical dialogue and initiate new collaboration between key players with specific Arctic knowledge.

You can find more information about the programme and other meeting details here but you can no longer register online, all new registrations will be done onsite during the meeting.

Science and Technology Week in Canada starts today (Oct. 12, 2012)

I see the coordinators of Canada’s 2012 National Science and Technology Week (Oct. 12 – 21) have organized what they hope will be a record-breaking “Largest Practical Science Lesson,” from the event page,

This October join the Science.gc.ca team, its partners, and thousands of Canadians in establishing a new Guinness World Record for the Largest Practical Science Lesson at multiple locations.

The record-breaking event will take place on Friday, October 12, 2012 at exactly the same time across Canada,  …

For those of us on the West Coast, the time will be 10 am, today. What a shame this wasn’t on the website when I checked for National Science and Technology Week events for my Sept. 11, 2012 posting. Happily, the event list for BC has grown and it’s not too late to participate,

British Columbia

Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre

ShawTitle of Event: Floating Ideas Lecture Series; Playing with Giants: Enrichment of Giant Pacific Octopus in Captivity

Location: Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre

Date: October 18, 7:00pm (doors open at 6:30)

Description: Learn how the Aquarist Team at the SODC is putting the giant Pacific octopus to the test and researching how to enrich the time they spend within the Centre.

Kootenay Association for Science & Technology

KASTTitle of Event: RoboGames

Location: Nelson, BC

Date: Training Sessions – October 18th, 25th; November 1st, 8th Competition – November 10th

Description: Robotics circuit training (4 sessions) and team-based competition. Open to kids aged 11 – 18, in the West Kootenay region.

Telus World of Science

Telus World of ScienceTitle of Event: Grade 8-10 Practical Science for the Classroom

Location: Telus World of Science – Vancouver

Date: October 19th, 2012, 8:30am – 3:15pm

Description: A full day of Professional Development for Grade 8 – 10 Science Teachers. http://www.bcscta.ca/

Title of Event: SWEET presents On The Edge, an inside look at Parkour

Location: Telus World of Science – Vancouver

Date: October 12, 6:30 to 10pm

Description: Cost is $10 + HST, to purchase your tickets in advance please go to http://www.scienceworld.ca/teen(Tickets will also be available at the door)

Title of Event: Westport Innovations Connection weekend

Location: Telus World of Science – Vancouver

Date: Oct 20 & 21, 10am to 6pm

Description: Included with your general admission to Science World. Please go to http://www.scienceworld.ca/aroundthedomefor updated information.

Title of Event: TEDx Kids BC

Location: Telus World of Science – Vancouver

Date: Oct 20, 9am to 5pm

Description: An awesome mix of British Columbia’s finest youth speakers. Please go to http://www.tedxkidsbc.com/ for more information. Attendance for this event is fully booked.

Title of Event: Café Scientifique: Changing Landscapes, Science in Canada’s North

Location: Telus World of Science – Vancouver

Date: Oct 20, 6:30 to 9pm

Description: This is a free event with limited space. Please go to http://www.scienceworld.ca/specialprograms#cafeto RSVP

Title of Event: Opening the Door

Location: Telus World of Science – Vancouver

Date: Oct 12 2012, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Description: A science career networking event for student’s grade 10 – 12. This is a free event but you must preregister.

Title of Event: Community Science Celebration – NSTW Western Canadian Launch

Location: Telus World of Science – Vancouver

Date: Oct 13 & 14, 10 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Description: This is the first event of its kind at TELUS World of Science, and we want you to be there. Let’s celebrate the science all around us at the Vancouver Community Science Celebration! Included with your general admission to Science World. http://www.scienceworld.ca/aroundthedome

BIG Little Science Centre

BLSCTitle of Event: Fun Hands on Science at the BIG Little Science Centre

Location: The BIG Little Science Centre. 985 Holt Street, Kamloops BC.

Date: We are open year round Tuesday to Saturday. Closed Sundays, Mondays and Holidays.10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Description: Everyone is invited to visit the BIG Little Science Centre for interactive FUN science! Vistit our website www.blscs.org for more information.

Title of Event: Fantastic Kite Day

Location: BIG Little Science Centre

Date: Saturday October 13, 2012, 10am to 4pm

Description: BIG Little Science Centre’s FANTASTIC KITE DAY! Fly your old kite, build a new one, experiment with Bernoulli’s principles of lift and learn about the physics of kite flying. Hands on colour and excitement on the ground and in the air.

Perimeter Institute [emphasis mine]

Perimeter InstituteTitle of Event: 2012 CBC Massey Lectures – What Banged?

Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

Date: October 16, 2012, 8:00 p.m.

Description: Neil Turok, Director of Canada’s Perimeter Institute, delivers the 2012 CBC Massey Lectures in five locations across Canada. Turok explores how the human mind can unlock the universe and transform the future. Please order Massey Lecture tickets directly from each lecture venue. Find a list of venues here.

Gairdner Foundation

Title of Event: Gairdner Foundation High School Outreach Program Lecture at the University of British Columbia

Location: University of British Columbia

Date: 22-Oct-12

Description: Science can be intimidating for teenage students. This is why the Gairdner Foundation’s laureates travel throughout Canada, sharing their personal stories about pursuing a career in research with students from over 120 schools. Today, the University of British Columbia will host a group of high school students for a lecture by Dr. William Kaelin Jr. and Dr. Jeffrey V. Ravetch.

Simon Fraser University

Title of Event: Saturday Morning Lecture Series

Location: SFU Surrey

Date: Saturday October 13, 2012, 10:00 a.m.

Description: TRIUMF, UBC, and SFU are proud to present the 2012-2013 Saturday Morning Lecture series. The lectures will be at a level appropriate for high school students and the general public. Event is free, however please register for tickets so that we can make sure we accomodate everyone. Everyone welcome.

The Exploration Place

Title of Event: National Science and Technology Demonstrations at The Exploration Place!

Location: The Exploration Place, Prince George, BC

Date: October 17th, 18th, 19th

Description: Have some fun with us as we celebrate National Science and Technology Week. Enjoy exciting hands-on activities, interactive daily demos, visit with our critters and tour the galleries.

Let’s Talk Science

Title of Event: Brighouse Science Bash

Location: Richmond, British Columbia

Date: October 19, 11 am to 3 pm

Description: In partnership with Genome BC and Richmond Public Library the 6th annual Science Bash takes place from 11am to 3 pm and will include interactive displays, fun experiments and other hands-on activities.

I’d like to note that the Perimeter Institute/CBC Massey Lectures is running a contest for  tickets to the various talks, books, and a grand prize of a trip to the Perimeter Institute and the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (European Particle Physics Laboratory). Here’s more about the contest and about the book by Neil Turok which forms the basis for this Massey Lectures series, the CBC Massey Lectures page,

ENTER TO WIN tickets to the Massey Lectures, books and a grand prize trip to the Perimeter Institute in Ontario, Canada and the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland!

Every technology we rely on today was created by the human mind, seeking to understand the universe around us. Scientific knowledge is our most precious possession, and our future will be shaped by the breakthroughs to come.

In this personal, visionary, and fascinating work, Neil Turok, Director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, explores the transformative scientific discoveries of the past three centuries – from classical mechanics, to the nature of light, to the bizarre world of the quantum and the evolution of the cosmos. Each new discovery has, over time, yielded new technologies causing paradigm shifts in the organization of society. Now, he argues, we are on the cusp of another major transformation: the coming quantum revolution that will supplant our current digital age. Facing this brave new world, Turok calls for creatively re-inventing the way advanced knowledge is developed and shared, and opening access to the vast, untapped pools of intellectual talent in the developing world.

Elegantly written, deeply provocative and highly inspirational, The Universe Within is, above all, about the future –  of science, society and ourselves.

The Universe Within: From Quantum  to Cosmos will air on Ideas November 12 – 16.

Good luck with the contest and enjoy this wealth of  science events.

Science festival (?) in Vancouver, 2012 National Science and Technology Week in Canada; and a science writing session at ScienceOnline Vancouver

Thanks to Sarah Chow’s Sept. 4, 2012 post about science events around Vancouver for the month of September 2012 I’ve found out about something brand new and was reminded of two other upcoming events. (For a full listing and an absence of critique, please do read Chow’s post.)

The science festival (and I’m not sure why they’re calling it a festival) is scheduled for Sept. 21 – Oct. 21, 2012. ‘Around the Dome in 30 Days’ is  described this way on its events page on Vancouver’s Science World at Telus World of Science website,

Around the Dome in 30 Days is a month-long science extravaganza hosted by Science World British Columbia from September 21 to October 21, 2012. This series of activities will bring the community together to showcase and explore the science and technology all around us to cultivate a general public informed, inspired and engaged with the wonders of science. Signature events will be hosted at our expanded TELUS World of Science facility, which includes our new outdoor sustainability experience, the Ken Spencer Science Park.

Schedule of Events

• The grand opening of the Ken Spencer Science Park
• National Science and Technology Week (Oct 12 to 21)
• The Community Science Celebration family weekend (Oct 13 & 14)
• Café Scientifique evening events (Sept 22 & Oct 20)
• Events for teachers, teens, seniors and more!
• Partner events and activities
• A speakers series
. . . and much much more

Extravaganza? I guess their standard for one is a little different than mine. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to describe their lineup of events as ‘special’. Clicking on the Schedule of Events will bring you a calendar, which lists events such as ‘Start up Canada’ on Sept. 21. No details. On Sept. 22, there’s a Café Scientifque, Fall equinox activities and bubble programming, and a Meet a Scientist event. No details. In fact, there are no details for any programmes on any of the 30 days.

This festival (?) seems to be the usual programming albeit packed into a shorter than usual time frame. Where are the exciting guests? Where are the details? Where is the imagination?

You can’t advertize ice cream (a science festival) and then hand out a bowl of oatmeal (your usual programming in a compressed time frame with the addition of an opening event for your new science park). The substitution will be noticed and usually resented.

Getting on to Canada’s National Science and Technology Week which is neither in September, nor one week in duration (Oct. 12 – 21, 2012) but does seem to be forgotten. Sadly, there are very few events listed nationally. This is the list as today (Sept. 11, 2012),

Western Development Museum

Title of Event: Saskatchewan Innovations – Virtual Exhibit
Location: www.wdm.ca/saskinnovations.htm
Date: October 14-20, 2012, All Day
Description: The WDM is proud to have a collection rich in science and technology innovations, from calculators to the ‘cobalt bomb.’ Our virtual exhibit Saskatchewan Innovations showcases seven inventions and their creators. New artifacts will be added to the website daily.

Alberta

Praxis

Title of Event: Family Science Olympics
Location: Medicine Hat High School, Medicine Hat, Alberta
Date: October 20, 2012, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm
Description: *Family Science Olympics’ fun-filled day will please, intrigue and inspire “scientists” of all ages. 10 “hands-on” events. Numerous draw prizes. *Family – at least one person over the age of 18. http://www.praxismh.ca/s&tweek.html

Ontario

Canada Science and Technology Museum

Title of Event: National Science and Technology Week
Location: Canada Science and Technology Museum, Ottawa
Date: October 12 to 20, 2012
Description: Celebrate National Science and Technology Week at the Canada Science and Technology Museum. On October 13, 14, 20 and 21, take part in exciting hands-on activities. Try your hand at science experiments, and discover how science and technology touch the lives of all Canadians.

Title of Event: Science and Technology Lecture Series
Location: Canada Science and Technology Museum
Date: October 16 and 17, 2012, 10:00 a.m., 11:15 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.
Description: Register for the Museum’s exciting lectures showcasing dynamic research by Canadian scientists and engineers. This is a perfect opportunity for students in grades 9 and up to explore potential careers in science, while supplementing your science curriculum! Each presentation is approximately 45 minutes.

Title of Event: What Museums Do
Location: Canada Science and Technology Museum
Date: October 18, 2012, 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Description: There’s more to museums than meets the eye! Go behind the scenes and learn more about some of the exciting work we do. Discover how we collect, restore, preserve and store artifacts as you visit our collection facilities and meet the people who work there. See some of the more than 40,000 artifacts in storage, and discover what they reveal about the transformation of Canada. For school groups only.

London Children’s Museum

Title of Event: National Science and Technology Week Celebration!
Location: London Children’s Museum
Date: October 21, 2012, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Description: Experiment with us while we celebrate National Science and Technology Week! Play with polymers, create your own rollercoaster, investigate acids and bases, and make some slime.

Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre

Title of Event: ARTIE (Advanced Research Technology & Innovation Expo)
Location: Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre
Date: October 19, 2012, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Description: ARTIE brings together elementary and high school students in an expo format to interact with local businesses in the field of science and technology, while inspiring young minds to pursue academic careers in these fields.

By this time, the list is usually longer and includes events for most if not all the provinces. Like Vancouver’s 30 day science festival, I would describe these listings as lacking imagination. They certainly don’t rouse any interest or excitement. Hopefully, this is just an off year.

The last event I’m mentioning is the Sept. 20, 2012 meeting  (Writing for Action) for ScienceOnlineVancouver. I like the opening paragraph but after that I have some problems. Here’s the description from their website,

On 20 September, 2012 from 19:00 to 21:00

Science World at TELUS World of Science 1455 Quebec Street, Vancouver, BC Canada V6A 3Z7

You have an issue you’re passionate about – and you know all the information to back it up – but how do you convey that message to an audience that will promote action? You might need different goals and messages for government officials, funders, or even family and friends.

Here’s your chance to learn and practice effective communication to different audiences, with an online twist with Andy Torr.

Andy Torr is a communications strategist in the Office of the Vice President Research at UBC. He specializes in explaining complex scientific concepts to general audiences, and he develops targeted messaging about UBC research for government, industry, funding agencies, peer universities, and the public.

The panel will start at 7 pm but we’ll have mingling (with BEvERages) at 6:30. Please RSVP so that we comply with liquor laws.

So, who is this guy and why is he qualified to teach me or anyone else?  That description of Torr doesn’t provide many details. Exactly what has he strategized? Where is his science writing? Can I read it?

I did go searching and found a LinkedIn profile for Torr which lists his work experience and education (B.Sc. [Env.], Environmental Science, Water Resources at University of Guelph) but not much more.

The first para., which I’ve praised, does seem focused on a beginner with a science background who wants to get their message out to one audience or another. I notice there is no mention of a media audience. The reference to ‘promoting action’ seems similar to writing for marketing/sales collateral where they include what’s referred to as the ‘call to action’. As for learning to write for different audiences (government official, funders, family and friends), that seems pretty ambitious for a two hour event.

Canada’s National Science and Technology Week 2011

October 14 – 23, 2011 has been designated as Canada’s National Science and Technology ‘week‘. From the October 7, 2011 newsletter from the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation,

We are proud to provide national coordination for Canada’s National Science and Technology Week (NSTW). Launch ceremony will coincide with the opening of CBC ]Canadian Broadcasting Corporation]-Radio Canada exhibition. Locally, our museums will mark the week with lots of lectures, events, demonstrations and exhibitions.

Here’s a video of Dr. Rashmi Venkateswaran from the University of Ottawa promoting National Science and Technology Week and talking about why she believes understanding science is so important for everyone,

There’s a listing of this year’s events across the country, here. I notice that in the province of British Columbia (where I’m located), there are a total of 11 listed, most of them in Vancouver or Victoria. Here are a few that caught my attention,

Girl Guides

Name of Event: All about Science
Location: Chilliwack, BC
Date of Event: Oct 18 2011
Event Details: We are going to do some science experiments, talk about Canadian inventors, and do activities from the Activity Book 3.

British Columbia Innovation Council [BCIC]

Name of Event: BCIC’s Innovation Exploration
Location: Victoria, BC
Date: October 24th and 25th 2011
Event Details: Closed event: Established in 1990, BCIC’s Innovation Exploration program recognizes British Columbia and the Yukon’s leading secondary students who represent their regions at the Canada-Wide Science Fair. The program provides top students with an opportunity to explore post-secondary education and career opportunities available to them in science and technology in BC. This year, for the first time ever, BCIC is hosting the Innovation Exploration program in Victoria, and will welcome 66 accomplished students for two days of activities and meetings with members of Victoria’s tech community including the Victoria Advanced Technology Council (VIATeC), Vancouver Island Technology Park (VITP), Centre of the Universe (Astronomy Interpretive Centre), the University of Victoria (UVic), and the Institute for Ocean Sciences (IOS). The event will culminate at the Opening Dinner held at Royal BC Museum with members of government, industry and academia in attendance and a keynote presentation delivered by Astronomer Dr. Doug Johnstone.

TRIUMF

Name of Event: TRIUMF Saturday Morning Lectures
Location: TRIUMF Auditorium [University of British Columbia]
Date of Event: October 15, 2011
Event Details: TRIUMF, UBC, and SFU present a series of lectures on the frontiers of modern physics at a level suitable for high school students or the general public. This lecture will cover “The Future of Nuclear Medicine” by TRIUMF scientist Dr. Paul Schaffer, and “Scanning Tunnelling Microscopy: In Touch with Atoms” by Dr. Yan Pennec of UBC.

Vancouver Women’s Club and SCWIST – Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology

Name of Event: Climbing the Ladder
Location: Hycroft University Women’s Club of Vancouver 1489 McRae Avenue, Vancouver, BC
Date of Event: October 20, 2011
Event Details: Networking event hosted by the Vancouver Women’s Club and SCWIST – Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology- promoting women in science, technology and management positions. Panel discussion with the following renowned individuals:
Anne Naser — Chief Information Officer (CIO)
Pamela Cohen — Vice President — Human Resources & Facilities
Joo Choon — Manager — Systems Development & Support
Andrea Goddard — Manager — HR Operations & IT Specialist
Izabella Wieckowski — Manager — IT Solutions
Zorana (Ana) Ostojic – Senior Engineer

$20 – non members free – SCWIST members (become a member today!)

Richmond Public Library

Name of Event: 5th Annual Brighouse Science Celebration
Location: Main branch of the Richmond Public Library
Date of Event: Friday, October 21st, 2011
Event Details: Join us October 21st (10:00 – 4:00) in celebrating the diverse sciences used in the classroom and workplace here in B.C. Building upon the huge success of previous years we hope to make this Pro-D event the biggest of them all by hosting the largest number of government and non-government groups. Bring your children for some hands-on science fun!

The Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation lists these events for their celebration of Canada’s National Science and Technology Week. Unfortunately, I could not find any additional information about the CBC-Radio Canada 75th Anniversary exhibition on the museum website.

Storytelling for scientists only; self-erasing paper/ink; library news

I checked out the (Canada) National Science and Technology Week (October 16-25, 2009) website yesterday and found more events (in BC) than the last time I checked in late July/early August. Oddly, one of the events, Storytelling for scientists, is not open to the public. I’m quite disappointed that I’m not allowed to attend as I think it’s a very promising sign of what I hope will be better outreach. ( I got my refusal from someone at the Geological Survey of Canada, which is quite a coincidence since the Survey was recently mentioned here by Preston Manning while discussing his recent speech about science and innovation  in Canada.)

After scanning the science (nanotechnology) news for the last three years, it seems to me that Canadian scientists have been lamentably slow to find ways and means to discuss their work in ways that are engaging and meaningful to people who don’t have a vested interest in the sciences. Yes, there are events for children but I haven’t seen anything much for adults.

Michael Berger over at Nanowerk has written up a very good description of a new technique for creating self-erasing pictures. It caught me eye because of the pop culture reference to Mission Impossible and then there was this,

“While writing with light can be both rapid and accurate, photochromic ‘inks’ are not necessarily optimal for transforming light-intensity patterns into color variations, because they have relatively low extinction coefficients, are prone to photobleaching, and usually offer only two colors corresponding to the two states of photoisomerizing molecules,” explains Bartosz A. Grzybowski, a Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and W. Burgess Chair in Physical Chemistry and Systems Engineering at Northwestern University.

I love the idea of ‘writing with light’ and, even better, the explanation of the technology has great clarity. (couldn’t resist the word play)

I have a longstanding interest and fascination with libraries and in light of the recent cuts to the library system here in BC (Canada) and my recent experiences at ISEA (International Symposium on Electronic Art), this item on the Shifted Librarian blog about the mobile devices, libraries, and policy session at the American Library Association (annual meeting?) caught my attention,

Question for Eli: when we talk about mobile devices, we mean digital content. is it a given we’re moving towards this licensing model for digital content, when libraries have traditionally purchased “things” and lending them under first sale doctrine? how do libraries maintain their rights under these threats of DMCA, etc.

Eli: this is really THE question for libraries in the 21st century; holding something of a copy that exists in 10,000 places in the world is worthless – that’s not the value; you have the whole world in your pocket
the rest of the world has skipped the 20th century and gone straight to the 21st; we no longer provide value by providing a copy of something that exists elsewhere
it’s what doesn’t exist anywhere else, which means creating it, which is usually letting your patrons create that
no longer bringing the world to your community, but bringing your community to the world and making it accessible
you’re (the library) the only one that cares about that content being out there
possible future where DRM triumphs & RIAA, etc. get everything they ever wanted and there’s no room for libraries
but could have an uprising against copyright and everything being free to everyone, although this is equally dangerous to libraries
will come down to digital ownership of rights
important not to forget that a major role of the library is to aggregate the buying power of the community and provide access
best thing we can do is produce and assist in the creation of new knowledge
don’t want to get involved in the DRM nightmare and find a value proposition that is meaningful to users in the networked 21st century

If you’re not familiar with the acronyms (I don’t know all of them either), DRM is Digital Rights Management, RIAA is Recording Industry Association of America, and (US) DMCA is Digital Millennium Copyright Act (I had to look up the last two).

This discussion provides an interesting contrast with the item about the cuts to the BC library system on the Think City website. Both are concerned with purchasing power and community access but one from the perspective of our mobile device future and one from the perspective of a 90-year old system that needs to be maintained.