Science Alive co-leaders

Science AL!VE A gateway for future alumni

June 14, 2007

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By Barry Shell

When Aimee Kumpula went to summer science camp at SFU in 1994 she never imagined she’d be running the program 12 years later. Together with colleague Angie Elliott, Kumpula is responsible for Science AL!VE, an expanded program that attracts 10,000 B.C. youth every year.

Science AL!VE offers elementary school classroom visits, a weekend girls’ science club, on-campus kids’ workshops and numerous community events. But the program’s most popular activity is its summer day camps, which are held at the university’s Burnaby and Surrey campuses and at outreach communities including Haida Gwaii and Fort St. John.

"By exposing kids to science, engineering and technology at a young age they learn how to question, and they get comfortable in a university environment," says Kumpula. Three out of 10 Science AL!VE staff members were camp participants themselves and are now SFU undergraduate students.

"When you’ve been exposed at 11, by the time you’re ready to go to university, you’re comfortable with the campus and it’s your first choice," says Elliott. Science AL!VE makes university-level science so digestible even Grade 2 students can understand it, she adds.

In addition to bringing science to the schools, Elliott and Kumpula are excited about bringing students to SFU. "We’re very lucky that chemistry, physics and kinesiology have come on board with this program," says Kumpula, referring to Science AL!VE’s Inner City Surrey-to-SFU workshops. Funded by grants from Actua and the Surrey Foundation, the program brings hundreds of Grade 5–7 kids to SFU to work with real lab equipment and watch demonstrations using materials and chemicals not found in schools, such as liquid nitrogen.

In one session Elliott overheard a child say to his teacher, "When I come to SFU I’ll already know where the labs are."

It’s a good bet he’ll be attending SFU after high school.

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