March may be nearly over, but it’s not too late to mention that this month is Youth Science Month in Canada, a month that aims to encourage youth to explore science and see its wider benefits. At a time when Canada is producing a disconcertingly low proportion of science graduates, there is a real need for initiatives promoting youth science education in our communities.
Simon Fraser University (SFU) undergraduates run a not-for-profit called Science AL!VE, which aims to increase science literacy among youth in the Lower Mainland. In this program, SFU science undergrads host interactive, hands-on programs for students in their communities, including a club for girls.Science AL!VE and SFU’s other related outreach programs seek to help prepare a new generation of Canadians for the future – both the students running Science AL!VE and the youth participating in the programs.
In 2011, Science AL!VE reached 8,395 children throughout B.C., and in 2012 it is expected to reach even more. Science AL!VE strives to make science accessible to all youth, regardless of gender, culture or level of affluence. Outstanding staff and volunteers are committed to sparking the enthusiasm and imaginations of their audiences, and serve as positive role models, dispelling the stereotypes associated with scientists.Science AL!VE runs many different initiatives, including:
- Science summer camps at SFU’s Burnaby and Surrey campuses, as well as in Haida Gwaii. Camps are designed to be highly interactive and allow students to explore the fun in science.
- Year-round on-campus and in-class interactive workshops designed to complement the B.C. Ministry of Education’s science curriculum
- Ongoing outreach initiatives to northern B.C. communities and Haida Gwaii, including an extensive bursary program
- Year-round all-girl programs designed to encourage girls to pursue careers in science, engineering, and technology. These include two weeks of all-girls camps in the summer, and a bi-weekly science club that runs during the school year.
- Jenny Birnbaum and Raven Haan are undergraduate students at SFU and directors of Science AL!VE.
- For more information, please visit www.sciencealive.ca