The Science AL!VE Insider [Part 1]: “Who here thinks Science is cool?!”

The Science AL!VE Insider [Part 1]: “Who here thinks Science is cool?!”

By: Lea Sanchez Milde
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From chemical reactions that hit the roof of our lecture halls, to trips to remote regions of Northern BC, this is an account of some anecdotes and experiences of my first co-op term, working for Science AL!VE in the summer of 2014, teaching children about the field of study that I love myself.  This is part 1 of 4 of the "Science Al!ve Insider" series.


“My name is Lea, and I study Molecular Biology at Simon Fraser University! Does anyone know what Molecular Biology is? No? Molecular Biology studies cells! So if you imagine your body is a house, each of the bricks that it is made of is a cell. I study how the cells breathe, what they produce, and the information they carry - for example, why I have brown hair while Charlie here has blonde hair!”.

After the five weeks of workshops that we at Science AL!VE taught during May and June, I am so used to this enthusiastic introduction, that I have a hard time explaining what I study to anyone older than twelve. I have also become an excellent bin-packer, an unbeatable cup-washer, I have learned how to keep the attention of 25 seven-year olds on a worm dissection and grown used to addressing everyone around me as “young scientists”.

Science AL!VE is a non-profit, student-run organization. Our two directors, Ginny and Sarah, as well as the eleven of us instructors, are undergraduate students - most of us in Sciences. Our team also includes high school instructors and volunteers, some of them joining us from Quebec - taking into account all our backgrounds, Science AL!VE is quite the multicultural experience!

While Sarah and Ginny are experts at planning, organizing, finding us a cozy room even in the most remote places of Northern BC and bringing back doughnuts for their favourite team of instructors, we have become experts at packing supplies into our bins, loading the biology van, and cruising the city to find all the schools in Metro Vancouver that want to learn more about anything from:

  • Our immune system
  • Digestion
  • What happens when you combine baking soda and vinegar in a Ziploc bag
  • How an Archimedes’ screw works
  • How a volcano forms

From the North Shore to Meadow Ridge, I got to see more of the Vancouver area than ever before. It was an incredibly interesting experience, to go into different classrooms for two hours, notice each teacher’s strategies and learn from them, be challenged by the energy of the youngest audiences as well as by the questions of the oldest ones, and make science incredibly fun, for all our students and even for us.

But that was before! Now we have started our summer camps here up at SFU, and also at Surrey and various outreach locations on Haida Gwaii and Northern BC. For the coming two months, our Burnaby campus will be full of Quarks, Electrons, Ions, Tech and Eco campers and Nebula girls. Based on this first week, I predict a lot of exciting visits to labs and other mentor events, many races through the Academic Quadrangle Gardens during lunch, quite a few wet instructors after our Friday water games, a surprised “Ohhhh!” here and there during Science Shows, and tons of fun. I hope I manage to share it with you here on this blog!

For more by Lea, read part two of her series.

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Posted on November 15, 2014