Biophysicist Nancy Forde (left) and senior lecturers Sophie Lavieri (chemistry) and Sarah Johnson (physics) will be strutting their science knowledge during Family Science Days at the 2012 American Association for the Advancement of Science conference Feb. 16-20 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. They are just a few of the more than 8,000 people, including many from SFU, expected at what is the world’s largest annual gathering of scientists.
Science educators hone skills
While numerous SFU scientists will be lecturing at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference in Vancouver Feb. 16–20, others will attend to hone their skills as educators.
The Faculty of Science is sponsoring 10 faculty members, two staff and two graduate students to attend 14 symposium tracks on education.
The tracks will cover everything from helping scientists address religious questions in the classroom to using real-world examples instead of traditional subject-based material to engage young minds in learning science.
“Our goal is to bring our AAAS experience directly back to our programs so students can benefit,” says science dean Claire Cupples, who is attending the education symposium.
“We already innovate with classes such as StudioPhysics in Surrey, which emphasize active learning by doing instead of just listening passively to long lectures. Our biology cohort program at the Burnaby campus and our Science Year One and Two programs at the Surrey campus offer smaller classes, more peer support and greater student-teacher interaction than traditional programs.”
George Agnes, associate dean of science, will be looking for best-teaching practices that can be incorporated into new science programming at the Surrey campus.
He says one of the biggest challenges for science teachers today is helping students learn to perform three key tasks equally well: experimenting, letting curiosity drive successful exploration, and assimilating hundreds of years’ of science advancement.
“Today’s students need to learn and understand a significantly larger quantity of information than their counterparts from even just a decade ago before they can be expected to generate new knowledge,” explains Agnes.
Two educational consultants from the Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC), who help science and health sciences faculty to develop educational programs and innovate their teaching methods, will also attend the education symposium.